Lovie Smith insisted he's got no "complaints" about Tommie Harris, yet the Bears coach also made it clear he's got high expectations of his players.
Asked if the decision to deactivate Harris might motivate the former three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Smith said, "Tommie is always motivated.
"I have no complaints about how Tommie Harris has done anything this offseason, what he's done on the practice field. We just thought, based on performance and where we were at the time, that someone else deserved an opportunity..."
Smith didn't finish his thought but quickly switched gears, mentioning Marcus Harrison, who had been inactive the first two weeks.
Smith said Harris will practice this week and "may be up this week."
In an interesting twist, Harris has been durable, regularly practicing in training camp and during the season. Asked why that hasn't translated onto the field, Smith said, "That's what we're trying to figure out, all right.
"But you don't have to figure all that out after three games. Again, we're going to go back to the practice field again, and turn the recorder on. We like what Tommie's done. Sometimes, taking a week off, helps for whatever reason, too. But Tommie is still a big part of what we're going to do around here."
Smith was then asked if any job is safe.
"Every job, if you're performing well, your position is safe," he said. "It's always been like that. If you're the starter, you have to play a certain way, or else the next guy gets an opportunity. Our guys, they know that, and they're OK with that."
Earlier, Smith cut off a reporter who asked if his philosophy on holding players accountable has changed.
"No, I'll stop you right there. No. Not at all. Same philosophy we've always had," Smith said. "We hold the players accountable on the football field. We look at what they do on the field, and we play the guys that give us the best opportunity to win. Go back over the video. That's what I've said from the start, that's what we're saying right now. Players realize that, too.
"That's why they're anxious to go out there on the football field and prove that they can help the team win that week, and that's who we're going to go with."
This is a delicate issue for Smith and the Bears.