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Defensive lineman Israel Idonije has been fined $5,000 by the NFL for his facemask penalty in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Idonije briefly grabbed McNabb's facemask and let go, but the officials caught the play in the first quarter. On the third-and-seven play, McNabb ran for a six-yard gain. The penalty gave the Eagles a first down on their touchdown drive that gave them a 10-0 lead.

If the story I wrote on Tommie Harris' ejection from Sunday's game made it to the World Wide Web, it's either since been swallowed up, or I cannot find it. So I'll post the utterly unedited edition of the story here because I think there are some nuggets worth considering in the story.

For instance, get what fellow defensive lineman Israel Idonije said about retaliating vs. dirty play: "Of course, there are other ways to get people back. There have got to be other options.''

Here's the story:

By Brad Biggs
Staff Reporter

The best thing you can say for Tommie Harris is he should be ready to practice this week and ought to be able to go all night Thursday against San Francisco.

That is because the Bears' troubled defensive tackle couldn't break a sweat Sunday afternoon after he was ejected on the fourth play of the game for punching Arizona right guard Deuce Lutui in the facemask as he lay on top of him just feet from referee Ed Hochuli after a 13-yard run by Tim Hightower.

It's yet another bizarre chapter for Harris, who in the last 20 regular-season games has been suspended once for conduct detrimental to the team, benched for performance and now sent to the showers by the officials for a flagrant act sure to cost him in the wallet.

``That kind of play is unacceptable for you to get ejected from the game,'' defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. ``I don't care what happens, you can't do it.''

As Harris made his way off the field he seemed to signal to coach Lovie Smith that he had been kneed by Lutui, and Harris is sensitive about his left knee that has caused him so many issues over the last few seasons, but throwing a punch is always a way to make a quick exit.

``[Lutui's] got a reputation for that, we know some guys that have played with him, he's one of those guys, that virus, that cancer,'' defensive tackle Israel Idonije said. ``It looked like [he kneed Harris] or something. I thought there was something going on. It's disappointing. I know they don't see all of that stuff but even the play before they've got to be able to see both sides and see what is really going on.

``Of course, there are other ways to get people back. There have got to be other options.''

Harris split the locker room before media was allowed in and was seen enjoying a visit with Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, his buddy, afterward. He wasn't there to explain his actions, however.

``Tommie has to be smarter than that,'' coach Lovie Smith said.

Lutui wouldn't talk about what had set Harris off.

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije had full participation in practice today, which increases the chance he will play Sunday at Atlanta. Here is the injury report:

Bears

Doubtful

LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, DNP-DNP-DNP
RB Adrian Peterson, knee, DNP-DNP-DNP

Questionable

DT Anthony Adams, toe, DNP-LIM-LIM
DT Israel Idonije, knee, DNP-LIM-FULL
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, knee, FULL-FULL-FULL

Probable

DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-LIM-FULL

Falcons

Out

S Antoine Harris, knee, DNP-DNP

Questionable

FB Ovie Mughelli, calf, DNP-DNP
CB Brian Williams, eye, XX-XX-DNP

Probable

K Jason Elam, left hamstring, FULL-FULL-FULL
WR Marty Booker, abdomen, XX-XX-FULL

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije practiced again Friday in the Walter Payton Center and said he plans to play Sunday night at Atlanta, which will be 14 days after arthroscopic knee surgery.

A determination on Idonije's availability has not been made yet, though, and he is expected to be a game-time decision for the Bears. He just returned to practice on Thursday on a limited basis.

"I don't know why everyone is saying it is a big deal, two weeks, that was the plan all along for me,'' Idonije said. "I knew in two weeks I would be ready to go.

"I plan on playing. I'll be all right. It felt all right at practice. It feels good. There's no issues."

Defensive lineman Israel Idonije returned to the practice field this afternoon for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 5. He was limited in the practice held inside the Walter Payton Center, and this doesn't mean he will be ready to go on Sunday night at Atlanta, but it's a good sign.

Here is the injury report for today. DNP is Did Not Participate. The chart goes from Wednesday to Thursday and then tomorrow to Friday.

Bears

DT Anthony Adams, toe, DNP-LIM
LB Hunter Hillenmeyer, ribs, DNP-DNP
DT Israel Idonije, knee, DNP-LIM
RB Adrian Peterson, knee, DNP-DNP
DT Tommie Harris, knee, LIM-LIM
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, knee, FULL-FULL-

Falcons

S Antoine Harris, knee, DNP-DNP
FB Ovie Mughelli, calf, DNP-DNP
K Jason Elam, left hamstring, FULL-FULL

The Bears have said they are hopeful linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will return from a rib injury suffered on Sept. 27 when they play Sunday at Atlanta, but he is not practicing this morning.

The team just started what will be about a 90-minute practice and Hillenmeyer, defensive lineman Israel Idonije and running back Adrian Peterson were the only players noticeably missing from action when media was permitted to view. Idonije had knee surgery last Monday, and Peterson has a sprained knee.

Nearly two weeks until the Bears have to suit up again in Atlanta, Lovie Smith said he is counting on all of his players to be available to face the Falcons?

Realistic? Maybe not. Possible? Sure. Smith confirmed the Sun-Times report that defensive lineman Israel Idonije had arthroscopic knee surgery today. He sounded more confident that wide receivers Devin Hester and Johnny Knox and linebackers Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer will be back.

"Clean up, you know, a little bit in one of his knees,'' Smith said about Idonije. "Should be ready to go. Nothing major. Minor procedure that we had scheduled, so he should be all right."


We knew the Bears were going to use the bye week to try and heal up at wide receiver and linebacker, and now this: defensive lineman Israel Idonije is expected to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today, a source close to the player said. Idonije has canceled a personal appearance.

Idonije has been on the injury report since the beginning of the season with a knee listed as his ailment, and he was questionable for Sunday's game against Detroit. He played and was credited with a forced fumble and a sack. Idonije was also involved on special teams, but didn't look as quick as usual. By doing the procedure today, there is a chance Idonije will return quickly. While it's unknown the exact reason they are working on his knee, it's not out of the question that he could be back on the field when the Bears play at Atlanta Oct. 18. The bye will certainly help.

Rookie defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert played for the first time against the Lions, and the Bears have added depth with tackle Matt Toeaina, who was inactive. So if Idonije is forced to miss a game or two, there will not be a scramble for bodies. Mark Anderson has been used inside in pass-rushing situations, and there are more than enough bodies to go around.

Three games into the era of Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator, I took a look at the tendencies the team has had using the blitz thus far. ESPN.com put out some interesting numbers earlier in the week showing that the Bears were blitzing more than 47 percent of the time, second-most in the league.

Smith didn't want to talk about tendencies, but said he goes into the game each week with a plan in mind and then adjusts as the game unfolds. If you'll recall, he put the blame on himself for one blitz at Seattle last week. The Seahawks were facing third-and-19 from the Bears' 39-yard line, and Smith called the blitz. Seneca Wallace dumped a little screen pass into the flat to Julius Jones and he broke an arm tackle try by cornerback Charles Tillman along the sideline to scoot all the way to the end zone. The Bears rushed six on the play--linemen Adewale Ogunleye, Tommie Harris and Israel Idonije, linebackers Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer and free safety Kevin Payne. Right end Mark Anderson dropped into coverage. There was minimal pressure but plenty of open space for Jones. With long odds for the Seahawks to pick up 19 yards, Smith probably wishes he would have been more conservative.

It's a zone pressure similar to what was diagrammed here at the National Football Post by Matt Bowen, who played safety in the league under Smith in St. Louis. One of the first blitzes Smith installed when he got to St. Louis was "Storm." Bowen does a great job of taking you through the X's and O's and explaining how and why the play works. He details the responsibilities in coverage.

Charles Tillman will be questionable for Sunday's game at Green Bay when the injury report is released later this afternoon.

Coach Lovie Smith said that the decision will rest in the hands of medical people, but at this point, two days before the start of the season, you would have to imagine a decision has been made. Tillman had back surgery in July, and just returned to the practice field on Monday. He completed his fourth practice this afternoon, and he and fellow cornerback Zack Bowman were the last two players on the fields behind Halas Hall.

"Either way,'' Smith said when asked if he didn't know or just didn't want to say. "What difference does it matter? Don't want to say, don't have to say, what I have to say is give you a questionable for him and that's what I'm saying right now and why would I want to say anymore.''

Tillman, well coached on the matter, said his gut feeling is ... what else? Fifty-fifty.

"I'm in the paper all week long,'' Tillman said. "What the hell?''

Tillman said the difference today as opposed to earlier in the week is he is no longer sore.

"It's really not about me pushing them to make me play,'' he said. "They're going to make their decision and the doctor is going to make his decision regardless of what I say or what I do. They have the green light to whatever it is I need to do. I'm just prepared if I get it, prepared if I don't get it. That's why I've been saying 50-50 all week.''

harris723.jpg

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."

wale.jpg


Going over the Bears' 80-man roster right now, one position of need really jumps out at you. We're not covering any new ground when we write that they are banking on considerable production from multiple unproven players at wide receiver in 2009. Donald Driver beat us to the punch on that already.

Earl Bennett is a projected starter with zero NFL catches. Rookies Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox are being counted on and the Bears are hoping they don't require a "redshirt year'' that some in the organization say Bennett had. Then you have starter Devin Hester and veteran slot receiver Rashied Davis. Brandon Rideau could also figure in the mix and he has virtually no NFL experience.

But if Lovie Smith could make one personnel move right now, import one player to his roster, would it be a receiver? Maybe. But think back to five years ago when Smith was first on the scene. The Bears went to training camp at Olivet Nazarene University and before they got out of there Smith made up his mind, he needed a pass rusher to make his defense go. We've heard Smith say it every year as the draft approaches, he can never have enough players who can get to the quarterback.

Well, the price for an elite pass rusher just went up. A lot. All of a sudden you've got multiple pass rushers (Dwight Freeney's $72 million contract is standing up just fine) making more money than some top passers, a trend that is sure to change and maybe before the Bears get around to doing a deal for Jay Cutler. Consider the joy among edge rushers this week:

*** Terrell Suggs beat the deadline that comes with the franchise tag to sign a longterm contract in Baltimore. He bagged $63 million over six seasons, the same money Matt Cassel got in Kansas City this week. According to reports, Suggs will receive $38 million guaranteed and his total bonus money in the first two years of the deal is $33.1 million, just shy of the $34 million in bonus money Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning had in his contract.

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