Maybe a little time off was just what Tommie Harris needed.
But the Chicago Bears will not find out until their defensive tackle takes the field Sunday and in the weeks to come.
Harris was benched last week for the Bears’ 45-10 blowout loss at Cincinnati and eventually the team’s efforts to couch it as an injury issue were exposed. Harris practiced all three days this week for the first time this season, and will start against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The hope is the move will jump start Harris, who has not been a dominant force now on a consistent basis for a season and a half, since he received a $40 million, four-year contract extension.
“Greatly,’’ Harris said when asked if the time off was beneficial. “It helped a lot.”
It was coach Lovie Smith’s decision to sideline Harris in practice last week and then for the game just two weeks after the Bears had their bye week. If the move upset Harris—he has a de-escalating roster bonus in 2012 that is tied to playing time—he hasn’t shown it.
“I don’t have to show [Smith] anything,’’ Harris said. “He knows what I can do, and everybody knows what I can do. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. It’s all about I prove it to myself, I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to this organization to get back to tip-top shape, so that’s what I’m doing.’’
As far as his chronic left knee, “I don’t even think that was an issue.’’ The team had said Harris was being rested and had been put on a new treatment program.
“We’ll just leave that alone,’’ he said.
So, now its up to playing up to his contract as the Bears (3-3) enter a stretch where they need to have some success. He understands the expectations that come with the job.
“That’s what I got paid for,’’ he said. “If you give a guy a whole bunch of money to perform or you ran a Fortune 500 company and the guys didn’t produce like he did, what are you supposed to do?’’
“You’ll see Sunday. How about that? You tell me. All right?”
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