The result of any preseason game means pretty much nothing, and that's especially the case when you're talking the fourth preseason game. And that's especially the case when you're talking about the 2014 Chicago Bears' fourth preseason game.

Due to not wanting to risk key players getting injured and wanting to get better looks at players on the roster bubble, the Bears sat a whopping 40 players on Friday night in a 33-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns (the Browns sat just six players):

H/T: Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain)

One name not on that list is Santonio Holmes, as the Bears wanted to get a look at the veteran wide receiver for a second game after signing him recently.

It's been in question if the 30-year-old Holmes still has the explosiveness and playmaking ability that made him a great weapon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets over the years (and he of course even won a Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers). And if Friday night is any indication, Holmes still has those qualities.

In the second quarter, rookie Bears quarterback David Fales hit Holmes for a completion under 10 yards away on 3rd-and-14, but Holmes made a great move to elude Browns defenders, and took the ball to the house for a 32-yard touchdown:



And with the Bears' kick and punt return jobs up for grabs after no one stood out in the roles over the first preseason games, the team wanted to get a look at Holmes as a punt returner. Holmes only got one chance to return a punt, but made the most of it with a very impressive 30-yard return:



Even if Holmes is not named the Bears' starting punt returner, it's still nice to know that he looks very capable in the role and brings more abilities to the roster than just being a receiver.

Holmes came into the game on the roster bubble, but you'd have to think he's a near lock now to make the team, and could provide yet another big playmaker in a Bears offense that was already loaded with them.


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Some good news on the injury front for the Chicago Bears on Wednesday at Halas Hall, as right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) returned to practice, and free safety Chris Conte (shoulder) revealed that he will be able to play on Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks.


Mills underwent left foot surgery in January, and had missed all on-field activities until his participation in Wednesday's practice. He hadn't even been spotted walking without a boot on his foot until Monday. But, the fact he's already back practicing is a very good sign, and hopefully he can play in the Bears' final preseason game next week against the Cleveland Browns.

In Mills' absence, rookie Michael Ola has been very impressive at right tackle and it seems like the team would be comfortable with Ola starting over Mills come week one if Mills isn't back in game shape or has any issues with the foot.

As for Conte, the 25-year-old made his first 2014 practice on August 10th, after being on the PUP list due to shoulder surgery he underwent in April. Now has a chance to make a statement over these final two preseason games in the Bears' wide-open safety competition.

Conte's 2013 struggles are well-documented, but the fact is that he may be the most talented free safety on the roster and likely has a very good shot at a starting safety job still. If nothing else, his presence may make Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen, Adrian Wilson, Danny McCray and company step up their game up a little bit in this battle for starting jobs and roster spots.

In other encouraging health news, kick returner/wide receiver Chris Williams' hamstring feels better and he too will play on Friday night:
As you see there, I said "That's big", because Williams really needs to get into game action and show what he can do, as the Bears evaluate their options at kick/punt returner and wide receiver.

Williams impressed in the preseason opener when he reeled in a 73-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Clausen, but injured his hamstring on the play. But the play demonstrated the elite speed Williams possesses and it's why that, along with potentially being another nice weapon in the Bears' offense, he could be the best kick/punt return option on the roster.

Right now, nobody is impressing in the return game for the Bears, and Williams was an electrifying returner in the CFL. However, the 26-year-old has yet to attempt a return in preseason for the Bears, and he's never even played a regular season game in the NFL. So, before you hand Williams a kick/punt returner job, you want to see what he can do there in NFL game action (albeit preseason), and you also want to make sure his hamstring is not going to be an issue going forward.

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DBN Material

Bears Place Tight End Zach Miller (Foot) On Injured Reserve- Super crappy news here after Miller was so impressive in the preseason opener. Injuries are the story of his career, unfortunately.

Podcast: Talking Bears With 'The Lineup' On Radio DePaul- I jumped on 'The Lineup' (a Chicago sports talk show for Radio DePaul) to talk Bears football with Eli Hershkovic on Saturday. This was soon after the Santonio Holmes news, but before the news that the team was cutting wide receiver/kick returner Eric Weems.

Topics include Holmes, the No. 2 QB battle, the No. 2 RB battle, the run-blocking struggles, the special teams struggles, & more. You can listen to a podcast of it here:
 

Thanks to Eli for having me on. He really does a great job on that show and gets some tremendous guests (much, much better than myself for certain), so make sure to give him a follow on Twitter (@EliHershkovic) and tune in to the show. (Eli Hershkovic; The Lineup)

Bears Roster Moves & Injury News

Bears Sign Santonio Holmes, Release Eric Weems- The Bears recently had Santonio Holmes in for a workout, but it was still pretty stunning to see news that the Bears were signing the NFL veteran and Super Bowl XLIII MVP.

Holmes has had off-the-field issues, been considered a "locker room cancer", and has dealt with injuries in recent years. He should not be expected to be the Santonio Holmes of a few years ago, but, who knows. Maybe a change of scenery and being around guys like Brandon Marshall that have turned their lives around since joining the Bears can help keep Holmes' head on straight, and get him to perform like a great player again. And for the No. 3 wide receiver on the Bears, that would make an explosive offense even more explosive.

If he ends up being a distraction or not performing well on the field, the Bears just cut him. It's as simple as that. It's a low risk, high reward move.

As for Weems, the fact he was already cut was as surprising to me as Holmes being signed. Weems was brutal in the Bears' two preseason games at wide receiver and returner. He fumbled a kick return, couldn't make it past the 20-yard line on the other kick returns, and pissed off Jay Cutler when he didn't come back to a pass that he could've. But, he came into the second preseason game as the No. 3 wide receiver and first wide receiver on the field next to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and he was the primary kick returner. So, just seeing him flat-out released right after that is a bit shocking to me, although with how Phil Emery runs things, a bold move like that maybe shouldn't be so surprising.  (Larry Mayer; ChicagoBears.Com)

Report: Santonio Holmes Gets Minimum Salary Deal From Bears- According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Holmes received a one-year deal for a non-guaranteed salary of $855,000 — the veteran minimum. If the 30-year-old Holmes doesn’t make the club, the Bears won’t be on the hook for any more compensation. But if he proves a solid third option behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears will have made quite the value signing. For Holmes, the deal functions as a one-year “prove-it” contract.

So, Holes has a non-guaranteed salary of $855,000, the veteran minimum. There is nothing to lose here for the Bears. They can cut Holmes and be on the hook for nothing if he is a "cancer", doesn't impress on the playing field, etc., etc. And if he's what they hope, he's a damn solid, play-making third receiver (and likely fifth option in targets).   (Mike Wilkening; Pro Football Talk)

Marc Trestman On Santonio Holmes: 'People Change'- The Bears are well aware of Holmes' past and why he was on the street this far into the preseason, but Marc Trestman thinks Holmes can change (and obviously, otherwise they wouldn't have signed the wide receiver):

"We spent time with him," Marc Trestman said Monday, via the Chicago Tribune. "I mean, people change. They get into new venues, new environments. You're out for a while, you get a good, hard look at where you are not only in your work life, as well as other aspects of your life." (Mike Coppinger; NFL.Com)

Holmes Plans To 'Embrace' Opportunity- (Michael C. Wright; ESPN Chicago)

Bears Signing Holmes Makes Team Leadership Statement- (John Mullin; CSN Chicago)

Signing Santonio Holmes Could Be Huge Boost For Bears If WR Can Stay Healthy- (Kristopher Knox; Bleacher Report)

Holmes Could Be A Big Upgrade- (Andrew Dannehy; Da Bears Blog)

Report: WR Marquess Wilson Could Miss 12-14 Weeks- When promising Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson broke his collarbone on August 5th, it was assumed he would be out 6-8 weeks. But, it sounds like it may instead be 12-14 weeks, in which case it seems likely that he'd end up on the short-term Injured Reserve. That would officially keep the 21-year-old out of the first eight games, but the Bears may have no choice if he may miss that amount of time anyway, as doing so would allow them to carry another player on the roster through that time frame.

If this report is accurate, is it why the Bears signed Santonio Holmes? The Bears are denying that's the case, but you have to wonder. Wilson was very likely to be the No. 3 wide receiver to open the season. Let's hope he can at least play half the season and at least make a big step in his development, as he's a very intriguing prospect. (NFL Trade Rumors)

Bears Sign KR Darius Reynaud & CB Peyton Thompson, Cut P Tress Way & LS Chad Rempel- The Bears released punter Tress Way and long-snapper Chad Rempel on Monday, and as corresponding omves, signed return specialist Darius Reynaud and cornerback Peyton Thompson.

While the Bears built up the Tress Way/Pat O'Donnell competition to really be a, well, competition, it was hard to see Way having a realistic shot at the job. The Bears wanted to keep Mr. 'Megapunt' motivated and to go out there and prove it, but when you use a draft pick on a punter... you'd better be using that punter.

Rempel was competing with Brandon Hartston for the long-snapper job after SuperBear Patrick Mannelly decided to retire, so it should be assumed that the job is Hartson's now.

Darius Reynaud is a veteran returner that you may remember an electrifying running back/receiver at West Virginia back in the day. The thing is, he's pretty much a returner-only in the NFL now, as evidenced by the Bears calling him a "return specialist" upon the signing. A big reason why they didn't seem to even bother keeping Devin Hester was that it's an inefficient use of a roster spot for a guy that only returns kicks. But, with Eric Weems struggling and ultimately being cut, Micheal Spurlock muffing two punts, and Chris Williams missing time with a hamstring injury, the Bears needed another returner around for the remainder of the preseason. (Larry Mayer; ChicagoBears.Com)

Bears Hold Out Six From From Monday's Practice"The Bears held out guards Brian de la Puente (MCL sprain) and Eben Britton (hamstring), cornerbacks Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and Kyle Fuller (ankle), right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) and linebacker Lance Briggs (knee bruise). 

 Bears coach Marc Trestman called Fuller, Mills and Briggs day-to-day. But Mills hasn’t yet played in a preseason outing, and there’s growing concern that his regular-season availability could be in jeopardy."  (Michael C. Wright; ESPN Chicago)

Mills Misses Another Practice, But Ditches Walking Boot- Bears right tackle Jordan Mills has missed all of the preseason, and is unlikely to play vs the Seahawks on Friday, but he's at least ditched the walking boot on his foot. (Brad Biggs; Chicago Tribune)

Bears/Jaguars Reactions

ReFocused: Bears-Jaguars- Ben Stockwell of Pro Football Focus breaks down the Bears' preseason victory. His three performances of note: Jay Cutler, Jon Bostic/Shea McClellin, and the Bears' cornerbacks.

Here's an excerpt  on what Stockwell took away from the performances of Bostic and McClellin:

The linebacker corps was a disaster for the Bears last season and they got off to a poor start against the Eagles last weekend. A few days on, though, and things will look a little brighter. New convert Shea McClellin put in a much improved display in run defense capitalizing both on unblocked situations as well as disrupting and defeating blocks to allow others to make plays around him. He still looks a little uncomfortable in coverage, but as a fresh convert from the defensive line, that should hardly be a surprise. 

Last year’s second-round pick, Jon Bostic, had about as polar opposite a performance from the preseason opener as you could manage. After struggling in both run and pass defense at the weekend, Bostic made positive plays in both phases last night (39 snaps, +3.1 overall).

Bostic's most impressive play came on the game's first drive, when he blew up Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel (the No. 2 overall pick in 2013) to get into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss on 3rd-and-1 (you can see the GIF of that awesome play at the end of the post). After how bad Bostic and McClellin looked against the Eagles, it was extremely encouraging to see them look much better in the second preseason game.

Here's some of the high and low grades given to Bears players by PFF:

Top 4 Offensive Grades Vs Jaguars
1. QB Jay Cutler, +1.6 (14 snaps)
2. RB Senorise Perry, +1.0 (14 snaps)
3. LG Robert Turner, +0.9 (46 snaps)
T-4. TE Martellus Bennett, +0.8 (14 snaps)
T-4. WR Josh Morgan, +0.8 (30 snaps)

Bottom 4 Offensive Grades Vs Jaguars
1. RB Ka'Deem Carey, -2.2 (28 snaps)
2. WR Josh Bellamy, -2.1 (25 snaps)
3. LG Joe Long, -2.0 (14 snaps)
4. C Roberto Garza, -1.4 (24 snaps)

Top 4 Defensive Grades Vs Jaguars
1. LB Jon Bostic, +3.0 (38 snaps)
2. DE Cornelius Washington, +2.6 (18 snaps)
3. CB CJ Wilson, +1.7 (13 snaps)
T-4. CB Tim Jennings, +1.5 (29 snaps)
T-4. CB Charles Tillman, +1.5 (28 snaps)

Bottom 4 Defensive Grades Vs Jaguars
1. LB Khaseem Greene, -2.9 (30 snaps)
2. CB Kelvin Hayden, -1.4 (33 snaps)
T-3. DE Austin Lane, -1.0 (26 snaps)
T-3. DT Will Sutton, -1.0 (26 snaps)

Jon Bostic's 38 snaps were the most played on defense; newly acquired offensive lineman Robert Turner's 46 snaps were the most on offense. (Ben Stockwell; Pro Football Focus)

Bears-Jaguars Observations: Devin Hester Is Missed- While it doesn't mean the Bears should've given a returner-only the $3 million the Atlanta Falcons did to sign Devin Hester (and note: the Falcons plan to use him at receiver too... good luck with that), the Bears definitely miss Hester so far this preseason. Eric Weems was absolutely awful as the primary kick returner, Michael Spurlock has muffed two punts (granted, he was never expected to make the team)... there has not been a notable return once, both in the kick and punt return games.

Chris Williams is probably the best option at returner (and could end up being an electric one as he was in the CFL), but he missed this game with a hamstring injury, and you'd like to see him showing what he can do in game action before just handing the regular season duties to a guy that has been playing in the CFL. So, the  (Adam Hoge; The Game)

Bears-Jaguars: Notes, Scribbles, & Things Jotted Down- Steven Schweickert's notes taken during the game. Lots of good takes here. (Steven Schweickert, Windy City Gridiron)

Impressions From Bears-Jaguars- (Dan Durkin; 670 The Score)

Report Card: Offense Solid As Bears Beat Jaguars- (James Neveau; NBC Chicago)

Chicago Bears: What We've Learned Through Week 2 Of Preseason- (Ross Read; Bleacher Report)

Bears Preseason Rookie Report: Week 2- (Mike Flannery; Bear Goggles On)

More Bears Stories

Morgan To Receiver First Shot At Bears' No. 3 WR Job- Marc Trestman says that veteran wideout Josh Morgan will get the first crack at the Bears' No. 3 wide receiver job, even with the signing of Santonio Holmes.

And this makes plenty of sense, for a few clear reasons. One, Morgan is a solid receiver that has three years of 40+ receptions in the league, and has impressed in the preseason. I wanted him to get time with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the previous two games. Two, Santonio Holmes should be handed nothing. The Bears want Holmes to go out there and show he still has it on the field, and that his head is in the right place. Three, Holmes still has to learn the offense and develop a solid quarterback/receiver relationship with Jay Cutler.

Holmes may ultimately win the No. 3 job, but going into the Seattle game, Morgan should be the guy in that role. (Michael C. Wright; ESPN Chicago)

Bears Stand To Measure Progress Friday Against Seahawks- The third preseason game is generally considered the most "regular season"-feeling preseason game, as the starters usually play more (and many of them then sit out the fourth game). And this year, the Bears' third preseason game happens to be against the defending champions in the most difficult road venue in the sport. So, this game could be a nice measuring stick for the Bears. (Sam Householder; Windy City Gridiron)

Breaking Down The Bears' Likely Opening Game Starting Lineup- (Matt Eurich; Bleacher Report)

2014 Preview: Chicago Bears- (Tyler Horn; Pro Football Focus)

Bears Wait For Backup RBs To Set Themselves Apart- (Patrick Finley; Chicago Sun-Times)

The Future Price Of Alshon Jeffery- What is it going to cost to keep Alshon Jeffery around long-term? Bear Goggles On's Alexander Zorn takes a look. (Alexander Zorn; Bear Goggles On)

Tweet Of The Day
Tweet Of The Day No. 2
Video Of The Day 

Santonio Holmes with a 69-yard touchdown reception for the Jets in week three of 2013 (he had 5 receptions, 154 yards in the game):


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Much of the talk following the Chicago Bears' 2014 preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles was about tight end Zach Miller, after the 29-year-old reeled in six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears' 34-28 victory.

And with all of the talk of how well Miller played in the game, came the explanations of how he's long been an intriguing player, but has never been able to stay healthy after being a sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska-Omaha in 2009 (he was an option quarterback there, actually). Miller's 2011 season ended after just four games due to injury, and he missed the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injury.

Well, just six days later, Miller's awful luck continued. The tight end left the Bears' preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday with a foot injury, and on Friday, the team announced that Miller has been placed on injured reserve due to the injury:
Ugh. No details on what the foot injury is, but obviously it's something bad if the Bears are immediately placing Miller on injured reserve.

It appeared Miller could really form a great tight end duo with Martellus Bennett in the Bears' passing game, but thinking about that feels secondary right now. Best of luck to Miller in his recovery and let's hope he can stay healthy next year (whether it be with the Bears or someone else), as he clearly has talent and can be a productive player in this league.

As a corresponding roster move, the Bears signed undrafted rookie wide receiver Kofi Hughes to a one-year contract:
The 6'2", 217-pound Hughes had 47 catches for 739 yards (15.7 AVG) and and seven touchdowns at Indiana in 2013.

UPDATE: ESPN Chicago's Michael C. Wright tweets that the Miller's foot injury involves a torn ligament, and the tight end will have foot surgery on Tuesday:
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The Chicago Bears host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night at Soldier Field (and on national TV, ESPN), for their second preseason game of 2014.

Here are seven things to focus on with the Bears during the game:

Special Teams

The Bears' special teams play was brutal across the board in the team's preseason opener. The kick coverage unit allowed a 102-yard touchdown return. Michael Spurlock muffed a punt and nobody stood out in the return game. Robbie Gould had a 41-yard field goal attempt blocked (we're obviously not worried about him, though). Pat O'Donnell and Tress Way are battling for the punter job, and were each inconsistent. There were three special teams penalties, one of which nullified a 63-yard punt from Way (the one good punt).

The special teams play must improve, and there are many jobs to be won on the special teams units. Pay attention to what players are standing out (or at least executing their jobs) on special teams against the Jaguars.

Jimmy Clausen

I simply have "Jimmy Clausen" here instead of "Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer", because if Clausen keeps playing well, the No. 2 quarterback job should be is. Even though Marc Trestman will keep telling you that this is an even competition between Clausen and Palmer that will go down to the last minute, it seems like the job is Clausen's to lose.

So, another strong showing for Clausen on Thursday night and it would be hard to see him not being Jay Cutler's primary backup come week one (unless the team were to sign Kyle Orton, of course).

Jon Bostic & Shea McClellin

Shea McClellin played in his first game at outside linebacker in the Bears' preseason opener, after the 2012 first-round pick disappointing at the defensive end position the previous two seasons. But, things didn't look much better for McClellin in his linebacking debut, as he struggled vs the run and pass with some of the same issues that have seen in the past, frequently taking himself out of the play.

And then there's Jon Bostic, in his second season for the Bears after being a second-round pick out of Florida in 2013. Bostic is in a battle with veteran D.J. Willliams for the starting middle linebacker position, and is working with the first-team nickel defense. But, he too looked bad in the preseason opener, after the team was expecting him to make big strides in his second NFL season (and with new linebackers coach Reggie Herring).

The Bears were counting on Bostic and McClellin to be key contributors at linebacker for 2014 and for one of them to be a starter entering the season (realistically at strong-side linebacker with D.J. Williams at middle and Lance Briggs on the weak-side), so they really need to start showing improvements.

Safety Battle

This is a wide-open competition, with Chris Conte joining the mix after returning to practice in the last week following shoulder surgery that kept him out of on-field activities all offseason. It appears that Conte will not play on Thursday night, but Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen, Adrian Wilson, and Danny McCray should all be out there fighting for jobs.

Mundy made an interception in the preseason opener, but it was giftwrapped to him thanks to pressure from defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young on Nick Foles. The improved pass-rush is why the Bears should get much better safety play in 2014 even if the safety talent level isn't necessarily better; the deficiencies at safety can be masked as we saw in 2012 with the same safety tandem that looked awful in 2013.

But, you'd like to see a safety or two start to stand out from the rest of the group, and not feel like you are basically starting backup-level players at the position.

No. 2 Running Back Battle

Coming into camp, it was assumed that the No. 2 running back duties would go to rookie fourth-rounder Ka'Deem Carey or second-year player Michael Ford (impressed last preseason). But, the No. 2 running back against the Eagles was veteran back Shaun Draughn, who averaged 3.9 yards per rushing attempt over 59 carries with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.

Marc Trestman has made it clear all offseason that pass-blocking is of significant importance when it comes to Matt Forte's backup, and Draughn has impressed in that regard during camp. So, pay attention to how these backs look when blocking.

Josh Morgan & Eric Weems

Marquess Wilson appeared to be a near lock for the No.3 wide receiver in the Bears' offense, before suffering a fractured clavicle that is expected to keep him out of action for 1-2 months. It's even possible the Bears put Wilson on the short-term IR (designated-to-return), which would mean that he would not be eligible to play until week 9. It's something the Bears certainly don't want to do, but they may feel it's the best course of action if Wilson is going to miss a lot of time anyway. They don't want to waste a 53-man roster spot on a guy that is going to miss several games.

So, for at least a while, the Bears are in need of a third receiver after Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The most likely candidates are Josh Morgan, Eric Weems, and Chris Williams.

Williams showed off his ridiculous speed with a 73-yard touchdown reception against the Eagles, but he also pulled his hamstring on the play and will not play against the Jaguars. Keep an eye on Morgan and Weems, both in terms of their production and how many snaps they play (particularly with the first-team offense).

Jared Allen

We know what he can do and that he's going to be a starting defensive end... but Jared Allen playing football in a Bears uniform for the first time? This will be fun (and weird) to see.

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