BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris has had very little participation in Chicago Bears training camp practices to date due to lingering injuries and he is getting impatient about it.
“The hardest thing is knowing how political this business is, and having to wear pads and sit on the sideline acting like I'm going out there and different stuff like that, but it's a bit frustrating,” Harris, a former Oklahoma standout, said. “But I'm going to hang in there and just see how it plays out.”
Harris said he is suffering from hamstring soreness, while coach Lovie Smith said Harris is having knee soreness.
On Saturday, Smith had said he expected Harris to be ready to go 100 percent in Monday afternoon's practice, but Harris never put on his helmet and stood on the side in uniform.
“Our plan is to practice all guys that are ready to go,” Smith said. “Tommie has a little bit of soreness in his knee so we're holding him out. We thought he would be able to get a little bit more work in today but he wasn't able to and we'll give it another shot tomorrow.”
Harris finished second on the Bears in sacks with five in 2008. He missed two games last year due to knee soreness and rarely practiced during the week in the second half of the season due to the situation.
Harris has a history of knee and hamstring problems. He missed Super Bowl XLI and the NFC playoffs because of season-ending surgery to repair a torn left hamstring.
Harris underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in March to find out why he was having lingering pain and doctors determined it was due to scar tissue. He continues to have problems with that, as well as a hamstring.
Smith wouldn't call the injuries a blow to team plans to have Harris back in the starting lineup by opening night at Green Bay.
“I wouldn't say a setback,” Smith said. “You go through training camp and soreness seeps in a little bit and that's all that happened as far as I see it. It's not like you've seen Tommie go down with an injury or anything like that. But after you practice this long, as hard as the defensive line is going, these things happen.”
Harris signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension before the 2008 season with an $18 million bonus, the highest ever paid to a defensive tackle at the time. He said he understands why the team is being cautious, even if he doesn't like the inactivity.
“I had surgery in March, so I didn't get a chance to do a lot of stuff that the teammates were doing,” he said. “So they're far ahead of me. So I'm really just starting to catch up.”
Separately, linebacker Jamar Williams suffered a shoulder sprain and tight end Fontel Mines a knee sprain during Monday's practice. Cornerback Zack Bowman remained sidelined due to a pulled hamstring and Smith said he isn't close to returning at this point.