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Smith: Harris 'still a big part' of Bears

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Dan Parr
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By Dan Parr

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — While he decided DT Tommie Harris wasn't good enough to be on the active roster Monday night vs. Green Bay, Bears head coach Lovie Smith said Harris "is still a big part of what we're going to do around here," on Wednesday.

Harris, a three-time Pro Bowler, watched from the sideline in street clothes Monday night, despite being healthy and in good standing with the team. He'll get his first opportunity to work his way back into the rotation at practice Wednesday afternoon, but he was not present during the open locker room period with the media at Halas Hall today.

Smith said he did not make Harris inactive with the intention of motivating him to play better.

"Tommie is always motivated," Smith said. "I have no complaints about how Tommie Harris has done anything this offseason, what he's done on the practice field. We just thought, based on performance and where we were at the time, that someone else deserved an opportunity."

Harris has practiced more than he has in years while enjoying his first offseason without surgery in five years, but better health hasn't translated to better play on the field. Smith said he's not sure why that's been the case.

"That's what we're trying to figure out," Smith said. "You don't have to figure that out after three games."

Matt Toeaina started in place of Harris and backup DT Marcus Harrison was active for the first time this season on Monday night.

"As far as who will be dressing this week, who will be starting, that's why you go through the practice week, which we'll do," Smith said. "We'll let you know (who will play) when the NFL tells us to right before the game."

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