Bears see Harris emerging-Defensive tackle showing positive signs
Bears see Harris emerging
Defensive tackle showing positive signs in practice
By Brad Biggs, Tribune Reporter
8:02 p.m. CDT, October 14, 2010
Tommie Harris was one of the last men off the practice field Thursday at Halas Hall.
He was working on some individual pass-rushing drills with coach Eric Washington, simulating moves in a phone booth. Wouldn't the Bears love for the defensive tackle to emerge from such tight quarters as Superman.
Heck, they would be delighted to see him come out of a phone booth as, well, Tommie Harris. Signs are pointing up. The Bears say Harris has looked good in practice. Not just this week, but over an extended period of time. Israel Idonije broke out with a career-high three sacks last week at Carolina. Julius Peppers has been a force from the outset and the belief is the other members of the line are going to take their turns shining.
Harris is playing a little more than 50 percent of defensive snaps and while he hasn't shown up much in the stat sheets — three tackles, one pressure and a fumble recovery — interior linemen aren't big numbers guys. The Bears have been strong as an overall unit and it has been a long time since they have excelled with him starring, a testament to what has gone on around him.
I need to get back to rushing in a phone booth," Harris said. "That's what I was coached in college. A phone booth is only 'yay' big and you have to learn how to maneuver in that little area. I have kind of strayed away from that."
If he can improve, there is always a chance he will return to the starting lineup. The Bears want nothing more for him other than to be a force inside again. While Peppers' presence will free up the opposite end to get one-on-one opportunities, life inside doesn't necessarily change.
"Izzy came on this week, he got better," Washington said "Tommie, we feel, is going to make the same jump. We're excited about the work. That is what gives you a chance to be more productive Sunday. That is the first step."
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said he wasn't surprised by the breakthrough for Idonije, who entered the season with eight career sacks and now has a team-high four.
"Get there. That's what we want. You gotta get there," Marinelli said. "That is part of the responsibility in this defense. Every man has to understand his role, what he has to do, and the standards are going up, not sideways."
Harris said he wasn't surprised. He has seen Idonije come on now that he has settled in at end and the Bears aren't relying on him to be a utility player. Harris hopes to be the next one to shine.
"That would be nice," he said. "My deal is just beat my man. I am playing the hand dealt to me. Every time you play cards, you don't get a great hand. I am just playing the plays I get in. I am taking advantage of them."