Biggs: Bears' DT Harris was benched for a week
LAKE FOREST, Ill.—Lovie Smith ended the mystery behind the disappearance of Tommie Harris on Sunday in Cincinnati.
The Chicago Bears defensive tackle was inactive because of the coach’s decision, not a chronic left knee condition. Smith’s comments Monday afternoon ended a series of confusing and sometimes conflicting statement by the organization, including Harris’ declaration Sunday that his knee was not the reason he missed the game.
“There isn’t anything wrong with Tommie,’’ Smith said. “Tommie didn’t play this week, it was more a coach’s decision as much as anything. He has had some soreness. He didn’t practice all week. I thought we had better options. All player decisions on who’s going to dress is a game day decision, who gives us the best opportunity to win.
“Could Tommie have played if I wanted him to? Yes, but I thought we could get a better Tommie if we let him rest this past week and get ready for this week. Tommie should be good to go this week.’’
The Bears altered Harris’ treatment program last week in order to help improve his ability on a weekly basis, and he declined to say after the game if he was upset with the issue and the fact that he missed a game when a de-escalating roster bonus in 2012, the final year of his contract, is dependent on playing time.
The key for the team is getting the under tackle, a three-time Pro Bowl performer, back to a consistent level of performance. He’s shown flashes in some games, but Smith’s decision was based on what he’s done on the field as much as his complaints about knee pain.
“Tommie’s fine on where he needs to be emotionally, just like the rest of our football team,’’ Smith said. ``Don’t know exactly how to answer that question. He’s just like the rest of the guys, he’s going to show up Wednesday, ready to go try to help this team win.’’
That was a not so subtle hint that Harris will be practicing Wednesday when the Bears begin preparations for the Cleveland Browns, their opponent Sunday at Soldier Field. It would mark Harris’ first Wednesday practice of the season.
“All players want to play each week, sometimes as a coach you have to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do this week for the long haul,’ and again I made that decision,’’ Smith said. ``Tommie will be good to go this week.
“He should be in better shape to play this week than he was last. I’m encouraged, and I think he’ll be ready to go. For a player to really prove he’s ready to go, it would help for him to be able to practice throughout the week and we think Tommie will be ready to go all week.’’
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