Tommie Harris and the word healthy aren’t exactly synonymous these days. In fact, that hasn’t been the case for a number of years. So, this week’s news that Harris’ extended break from practice is the result of a hamstring injury he’s suffered since arriving at training camp is more than disconcerting. Harris also revealed that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in March.
While the Bears just may be holding Harris out of training camp practices as a precautionary measure, it’s not comforting knowing that this supposedly “young” 26-year-old defensive tackle is already breaking down in August.
Harris’ level of play this season is nearly as important to the defense as Jay Cutler’s is to the offense. We’ve seen what a healthy Harris can do and that’s disrupt the opponent’s game plan. Without Harris, the Bears have been an average defense the past two years. Everything the Bears do on defense starts up front, specifically with Harris. He’s the igniter to their engine.
Now, with a worn-down Harris, a hobbled Charles Tillman, and a secondary that lacks experience, things aren’t looking so rosy for the Bears’ defense. In the first seven games last season, it was strange for Bears fans to watch the offense carry the defense through games. If the defense doesn’t shape up and bounce back from these injuries, as hard as it may be to believe, it could be Cutler and the Bears’ offense that outplays the defense for all of 2009.