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Jay Cutler is being punished for being bad.

But it has nothing to do with his performance on the field.

The NFL has fined the Bears quarterback $20,000 for abuse of a game official. Cutler drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing with officials during the loss to Arizona on Sunday at Soldier Field. Lovie Smith talks about how the Bears are a disciplined football team, and how the rash of penalties lately--the team had 10 for 75 yards Thursday night at San Francisco--are out of the ordinary.

This marks the second consecutive season, though, that a team captain has been fined that amount by the league for that infraction. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was also fined $20,000 by the NFL last season after being penalized at Atlanta for the same thing. NFL officials are taught to be careful when penalizing players for unsportsmanlike conduct. Coaches and players can get away with saying a lot. It's not like Major League Baseball where quick-trigger umpires will boot players over the slightest thing.

SAN FRANCISCO--Jerry Angelo said that Tommie Harris is being evaluated for next season and the future beyond just like every player on the roster.

The defensive tackle caught the general manager off guard when he punched Arizona's Deuce Lutui on the fourth play of the game Sunday and was ejected. It was another bizarre chapter in the recent history of Harris, who was suspended for a game last season and was benched earlier this season by coach Lovie Smith.

"All the guys are being evaluated for next year, OK,'' Angelo said. "And you know what I am talking about. I am not going to make him out to be a target. He's got to play and do the things we know he can do that he has shown in spurts. It's not that he can't do it. We want to see the consistency.''

Harris earned a $6.67 million roster bonus this season and the has a $2.5 million roster bonus for 2010 that is due in June. He hasn't played to the level the Bears want to see, although Angelo said he has shown enough glimpses to leave the organization hopeful he will out it together again.

"It is old news [the ejection] and I don't want to labor it, he said what he said, he's apologetic,'' Angelo said prior to tonight's game. "It's certainly not in his character to do something like that. It wasn't in college, it wasn't here. We've never had any examples of that by him. That really came out of left field for everyone, in terms of what he did, the timing of when he did it, it's a bad incident. The league will I am sure fine him.''

Embattled defensive tackle Tommie Harris vowed to make it up to his teammates after being ejected from Sunday's game on the fourth play from scrimmage for punching Arizona Cardinals right guard Deuce Lutui in the head.

"I was embarrassed, especially for my actions. I apologized to him yesterday, called Larry [Fitzgerald] and had a chance to apologize to him,'' Harris said at his locker this afternoon. "I just wanted to apologize to my fans first off, and the little kids out there that saw that action. I shouldn't have behaved in that manner, and I apologized to my teammates, and I'll make up for it."

Harris' career has been filled with immature acts but being bounced from a critical game at the very beginning has to be near the top of the list. In the last 20 regular-season games, Harris has been suspended for one game for conduct detrimental to the team, benched for another and now he's been run off for a punch that will surely cost him in the wallet.

Harris accused Lutui of doing "some unnecessary stuff during the game'' but refused to say specifically what set him off. Lutui blocked Harris into the ground on the play before he was ejected. Simply put, he couldn't have done that much to Harris.

"In the six years I've been here I've never done anything like that, and he kind of pushed me to my limits and I apologize for all that,'' Harris said.

Coach Lovie Smith said that the team will wait to see what kind of discipline the NFL hands down. It is expected that Harris will be fined for his actions.

"I fell like I hurt my team,'' Harris said. "I was very embarrassed, and hopefully I'll make up for it the next time I get out there.''

Charles Tillman vowed to be ready to go Thursday night at San Francisco after being knocked out of Sunday's game with a left shoulder injury, and rookie strong safety Al Afalava labeled himself day-to-day.

The Bears weren't just beat by Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw five touchdown passes in the 41-21 Cardinals' victory at Soldier Field, they were beat up. Tillman left the game after trying to arm tackle wide receiver Steve Breaston on an end around as he was blocked by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"I will be ready to see Isaac Bruce and [Michael] Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis,'' Tillman said. "That guy can run. He's not your average tight end."

Tillman was knocked out of multiple games last season with shoulder injuries, and he has a history of subluxations in his career. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in January but said that he will not be worried about his shoulders returning to the field.

Afalava was knocked out of the game when he re-injured his right shoulder that first became a problem in preseason. Afalava said after the game that he expected to have an MRI today, but that apparently didn't happen.

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.

Here we go. Ten reactions and random thoughts (and then a few more) coming out of a downright ugly day of football at Soldier Field ...

Two weeks after a 35-point loss at Cincinnati the Bears have lost by 20 points at home to a team that was on a record-setting pace in terms of futility running the football.

The fine folks at Football Outsiders revealed earlier today that the Cardinals, averaging 64.9 yards rushing per game entering the game at Soldier Field, were a new kind of bad when it came to running the football. Arizona drafted Beanie Wells in the first round from Ohio State to help prop up its running game, yet it entered the game with the worst statistical rushing game since the NFL-AFL merger. That was in 1970.

The Cardinals came to the right place, though, the spot you need to be if you're running game is in disarray. They nearly tripled their average with 182 yards on 31 attempts (5.9 average) as Wells (72 yards, 13 carries) and Tim Hightower (77 yards, 15 carries) busted off big runs. Oh yeah, Kurt Warner became the second quarterback in three weeks to throw five touchdown passes against the Bears, something that had not happened since Brett Favre did the trick in 1995.

But let's get this straight. The Bears have mostly the same players as they did during their 2006 Super Bowl run, they're playing the same scheme and they've claimed to have upgraded the talent on the coaching staff, right? The explanation given at the end of last season, a disappointing 9-7 year, is that the Bears were going to coach their way out of the mess. That's essentially what Smith said he was going to do when he swapped out position coaches at all three levels of the defense. There were not any big personnel additions made. They were going to fix it by coaching 'em up better. Now, for the second time in three weeks, the Bears have been completely outschemed and totally outplayed. Unprepared? It would be hard for them to make a case that they were ready.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has been under fire. His unit was miserable a week ago vs. Cleveland, and it wasn't close to being good enough to stand up and match the Cardinals drive for drive in the first half. But the Cardinals scored on their first six possessions, not too unlike the Bengals who scored on their first seven possessions. The Bears have a defensive head coach, who doubles as the defensive coordinator, and a general manager in Jerry Angelo who has worked long and hard to stock that defense. If they're broken on defense, as it appears, what are they doing?

1. So, I heard some players say after the game that the Bears are even now that they're 4-4. Even how? Sure, they have a .500 record but even is 0-0 when everyone else is 0-0. The Minnesota Vikings are 7-1, so the Bears' idea that they are even is laughably wrong. Unless even means "we're three games back" in their dictionary. By the way, those Vikings host Detroit and Seattle before the Bears go there at the end of the month. Go ahead and pencil them in for 9-1 going into that game.

2. Hightower and Wells combine for 149 yards rushing. What do you have Frank Gore for Thursday night at San Francisco in your pool? 225? For what it's worth, plenty to him I am sure, Gore's career high is 212 vs. Seattle in 2006. He also went over 200 yards vs. the Seahawks in Week 2 of this season.

3. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who is a captain, said he planned to speak with Tommie Harris about his senseless ejection from the game. Sounds like a good idea even if the damage has been done. Ogunleye said the right things, that what Harris did was unacceptable and it's never OK to be booted out of the game. But he stopped at that point from criticizing Harris further.

"I am not frustrated with him,'' Ogunleye said. "I am frustrated with myself.''

Now that sounds even better. Where has Ogunleye been on the defensive line in recent weeks? You don't get to rush vs. Green Bay's Allen Barbre and Detroit's Gosder Cherilus every week. Ogunleye hasn't done a whole lot in the last month and needs to step his own game up in a contract drive season.

4. Yes, before Warner found a home in Arizona, he was at Halas Hall for a visit. But the Bears--Angelo and Smith--were dead set on developing Rex Grossman at the time. I have no idea who he would have thrown the ball to, but the insistence on Grossman shines as one of the bigger draft miscalculations of the last decade for a team that's made it's share.

Before I get to 10 quick reactions from the game today (and maybe a few extra, who knows), I went back to the copy of the game tape to see if I could determine what set Tommie Harris off this afternoon.

No one in the press box I spoke to could remember the last time a Bears' player was ejected from a game, at least recently. I sure have not seen it in nine seasons, although I can tell you that running back Walter Payton was given the heave-ho from a game at Atlanta in 1980.

At any rate, there wasn't a lot to watch because Harris got kicked out on the fourth play of the game. Here's what I saw:

1-10-AZ 19. There was no interaction between Harris and Deuce Lutui, and Harris ran over to say a little something to his friend Larry Fitzgerald after he dropped a pass.

2-10-AZ 19. Lined up on the opposite side of the line, Harris had an unblocked path to Kurt Warner as left guard Reggie Wells blew his assignment. Harris hit Warner as he got rid of the ball. Again, no interaction with Lutui.

3-10-AZ 19. Harris was knocked down at the beginning of the play and as Warner released the ball, Lutui hit Harris again as he was trying to get up, the beginning of their brief scrum for the day.

1-10-AZ 42. Lutui drove Harris to the ground quickly at the beginning of Tim Hightower's 13-yard run. Lutui stayed on top of Harris well after the play ended. The television cameras cut away at this point. When they pick up action again, Harris has flipped the tables and he's on top of Lutui and punches him with his right hand in the facemask with referee Ed Hochuli within feet of the action. Middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer stands there shaking his head.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris has been ejected following the fourth play from scrimmage after he punched Arizona Cardinals right guard Deuce Lutui in the facemask when he was on top of him.

The incident happened at the end of a 13-yard run by running back Tim Hightower. Harris was on top of Lutui at the end of the play, and referee Ed Hochuli was just feet behind Harris.

It's another bizarre incident in a bizarre season for Harris, who was benched for the game at Cincinnati two weeks ago.

Harris has a de-escalating roster bonus in 2012 that has already been reduced to $6.5 million. The bonus is tied to playing time and Pro Bowl appearances, and Harris stands almost no chance of hitting the playing time threshold of 74 percent for this season. That's going to be a nearly impossible figure after he missed one entire game and was kicked out of the very beginning of another one.

Getting last week off has gotten defensive tackle Tommie Harris in a good frame of mind.

There's a good chance that had as much to do with his own little bye week as much as his left knee, and now he's ready to roll Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

"Yeah, greatly,'' Harris said when asked if the time off helped. ``It helped a lot.

"[Lovie Smith] knows what I can do, and everybody knows what I can do. I don't have to prove anything to anybody. It's all about I prove it to myself, I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to this organization to get back to tip-top shape, so that's what I'm doing.''

Asked about his chronic left knee, Harris said "I don't even think that was an issue,'' lending more credence to the theory that Harris was sat down by Smith as a wakeup call two weeks after the Bears had a real bye week. The Sun-Times reported on Monday that Harris said his knee was not the reason for the benching last Sunday at Cincinnati when the Bears were blown out 45-10 in one of the worst performances of the Smith era.

Harris is fine with the expectations that have been placed on him, and understands the scrutiny.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris is practicing for the first time on a Wednesday this season, but end Adewale Ogunleye is sidelined with an ankle injury that must have been suffered in the loss at Cincinnati.

Harris was benched last week by coach Lovie Smith, who was very direct Monday when he said that Harris would need to be on the practice field. He is expected to start on Sunday vs. Cleveland.

The players were loose and talkative during the beginning of practice when media was allowed to survey the action, a sign that they've put the 35-point loss to the Bengals behind them.

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.

We will see if Bears coach Lovie Smith moves to take some of the guesswork out of the Tommie Harris' situation when his press conference begins in a little less than 90 minutes.

Know this: There's been considerable guesswork with members of the organization, Harris included, saying completely different stories about him missing Sunday's 45-10 loss at Cincinnati.

The belief is that Harris was inactive for the game--and three practices last week--because the Bears made an organizational decision to rest Harris. He had been experiencing pain in his left knee, as Smith said repeatedly last week. He did receive extra treatments on the knee as a team source said. Finally, he has not been playing up to the expectations the team holds for him, so combining all three factors, a decision was made to sit him out of the game vs. the Bengals.

Harris told the Sun-Times after the game Sunday that he did not sit out because of pain in the knee, and pointed out that he worked out on the Pal Brown Stadium turf prior to kickoff.

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