A week before players are due to report to training camp, Rod Marinelli says that Tommie Harris is ready to go.
The new defensive line coach and assistant head coach chatted with Thomas George at NFL.com and said Harris was not 100 percent last season when missed one game by injury and didn't consistently play at the dominant level the team had been accustomed to seeing at the center of the defense. Harris had five sacks, one behind team leader Alex Brown, and nine tackles for loss, third on the defense. But statistics are never the best measure for Harris' performance. It's about him being a disruptive force on the line, one that commands a double team often. When he's doing that, those around him are much better.
"Tommie is strong, motivated, bright, perfect for the system," Marinelli said. "He was banged up last year. He seems pretty healthy. He's done it. This group is going to compete. It is exciting to see them come together."
That is good news for the Bears, who would say Harris was not used sparingly in the offseason program, but smartly. We've written it here before, a practice some time between March and June isn't as significant as one in September. Not only is it going to be interesting to watch Harris when the Bears get going, we'll get a better indication of what the team has planned at the other tackle position. Israel Idonije played inside more during the spring than anyone expected. Now we'll now if that was just because guys like Harris were on the sideline, or if he'll play a big role inside after his contract extension.