Lovie Smith went out of his way on Wednesday to make sure it was known Tommie Harris isn’t in his dog house.
Or if he is in the dog house, he’s not at the back of it and should get to come out and run again soon.
The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle received a very public benching on Monday night when he was de-activated for the game with the Green Bay Packers. Harris was healthy and the decision was made that he simply wasn’t one of the team’s 45 best players for that game.
It was a surprising move on the surface, but the Bears have struggled to get production from Harris ever since signing him to a contract extension in 2008. He practiced rarely last year and that became an issue for new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Harris hasn’t missed a thing this year and he hasn’t produced on the field.
There’s the trick. The team believed a more involved Harris would lead to a more dynamic one. General manager Jerry Angelo even stepped out before the season began and said he expected a return to Pro Bowl form.
Instead, he’s been deemed a liability. Why hasn’t more practice created the results the team is seeking?
“That's what we're trying to figure out, all right?” Smith said. “You don't have to figure all that out after three games. We're going to go back to practice. Maybe sometimes taking a week off helps for whatever reason. But Tommie is still a big part of what we're going to do around here.”
From the sounds of things, Harris will be active for Sunday’s game at the Giants. What role he’ll play remains to be seen. This is the third timeout he’s been given in three seasons. Maybe it makes a difference. But Smith sure can’t say.
“We don't try to send messages or things like that,” Smith said. “As far as who will who be dressing this week, who will be starting, that is why you go through the practice week.”
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