Tommie Harris was right on the money Sunday after the game in Cincinnati when he said the condition of his left knee had nothing to do with him sitting out the game.
Lovie Smith confirmed as much at his press conference this afternoon when he said that it was his decision for Harris to sit out last week and the game with an eye toward getting Harris energized for the remainder of the season. The message Harris sent was very clear: If you want to play, you need to practice. Harris has been taking Wednesday practices off, and last week Smith said enough is enough, take the week off.
Harris told the Sun-Times on Sunday that it wasn't true he missed the game because of pain in his left knee.
"There isn't anything wrong with Tommie,'' Smith said. "It was more a coach's decision as much as anything. I thought we had better options.
"Could Tommie have played if I wanted him to? Yes, but I thought we could get a better Tommie if we let him rest.''
It marks two bye weeks in a span of three weeks for Harris. The underlying tone was Smith wants to see more from Harris on the practice field and on Sundays. It's a catch-22 the Bears and Harris are in. He needs to practice more to become better as a player, but he also needs to rest to preserve his left knee. A team source said he received extra treatments on his knee last week, and Smith said repeatedly he was dealing with pain. There is not a new injury.
Harris is expected to play Sunday vs. Cleveland at Soldier Field. Smith strongly hinted he will be on the practice field on Wednesday, a day he has been getting off this season.
At least it's been cleared up by both parties now. Harris sat out because Smith told him he was going to, and now the Bears are expecting much more.