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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Bears' Harris enters bye on strong note

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Lost in last Sunday's helter-skelter game at Soldier Field was an encouraging performance from Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who produced his best game of a disappointing season in the Bears' 48-41 victory over Minnesota.

In addition to registering his first sack of 2008, Harris finished with a season-high four tackles, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries. The sack came at a particularly important time for the Bears; the Vikings had just regained possession at their 25-yard line and had 1:06 left to try to tie the game. But Harris' sack of Gus Frerotte pushed the Vikings back another eight yards, and on the ensuing play rookie cornerback Zackary Bowman nabbed a game-clinching interception of quarterback Gus Frerotte.

"Tommie's a great player," Bears coach Lovie Smith told local reporters. "He makes our entire defensive line better. He did it the last time he played. The best game he's played this year was the last time we played. We saw signs of the old Tommie coming back. We expect to see that and more the next time we play."

Harris entered Sunday with three tackles and three quarterback hurries in four games. A knee injury has bothered him and caused him to miss one game, but personal problems -- namely, difficulty dealing with a child born out of wedlock -- led him to be suspended for another.

It seems clear the Bears need a much-improved performance from Harris if they intend to improve their defense in the second half of the season. Disrupting the middle of an opponent's offense is a necessity in the Tampa-2 scheme, and no one on Chicago's roster is better equipped to do it than Harris.