The first thing that came to mind for receiver Freddie Barnes when he was back at Halas Hall on Sunday for an NFL regional combine at the Bears' Walter Payton Center was a bad memory.
But the former Homewood-Flossmoor star still left satisfied with his performance.
"I instantly think of when I pulled my hamstring in practice running a deep post," Barnes said while staring out at the Payton Center practice field after the combine concluded.
"Other than that it was fun. I had a good time showcasing some of my abilities and putting the [combine] T-shirts on. It was a good experience."
Barnes, a record-setting receiver at Bowling Green, was signed by the Bears as an undrafted rookie in 2010. He performed well in OTA's and during minicamp, but he was later waived.
He believes he has some unfinished business.
"Definitely," Barnes said. "I haven't had my shot yet. So I'm fighting until I get it."
Barnes was one of the most accomplished players of the 275 who took part in the regional combine on Sunday. There are 13 regional combines for position players and one super-regional combine in Dallas (April 7) this year.
In 2012, there were 69 players who attended either a regional combine or the super-regional and were on NFL rosters heading into training camp.
"I haven't had that opportunity to show that I'm a playmaker on any [NFL] field [since 2010]," said Barnes, who set an NCAA record with 155 receptions at Bowling Green in 2009. "Practicing with Pro Bowlers like [Bears cornerbacks] Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, I had a great opportunity to showcase my skills against a great defense every day. They were the only people to have an opportunity to see that.
"I'm very, very optimistic that it's going to be a good year."
After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League in 2011, Barnes is back with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League. After completing the combine Sunday, he actually headed to Rush practice. He signed with the Rush prior to the 2011 season.
Barnes said there have been lessons learned by going from a star player at Bowling Green to the Bears' practice squad to the CFL to the Rush.
"Simply that [football is] a business," Barnes said. "You have to learn how to separate the two and learn how to fall in the perfect spots and the perfect situations. Understanding the business can give you an opportunity to look at your career and how it works for you.
"I have progressed mentally just with the knowledge of the game, with how to take care of my body and how not to get caught up in the ups and downs or the media and all that. It's just being smarter to where it can benefit me in all areas, no matter what happens."