Harris' continued presence in Chicago only will serve as a reminder of how wide the gap between players and management has grown. From the weekly sniping over Matt Forte
's contract extension that isn't coming to Lance Briggs
' preseason money grab to Harris' latest request for a trade, 2011 already has become a year of player dissent at Halas Hall. Not even a 29-point victory could quell it. Skepticism runs so rampant that it came as no surprise last week when a Bears player privately questioned Angelo for not addressing the offensive line.
Now, the longer Harris stays the more he will remind everybody just how indecisive the Bears remain at the bugaboo position for Lovie Smith
Two days before Harris was scheduled to return from a hamstring injury to play the Lions, Smith said this: "We need him. We've missed him back there.'' Two days after Harris looked rustier than an '89 Corolla giving up big plays against the Lions, Smith benched the safety he missed so much.
And you thought Marion Barber
's flip was the hardest one to explain this season.
"They felt like they needed to shake some things up,'' Harris said. "It is a contract year for me and if they are moving on then why not play Chris and Major?''
Starting Conte and Wright is fine. Thinking Craig Steltz
and Brandon Meriweather
provided better insurance than Harris against injury or ineffectiveness isn't.
Smith reiterated Monday how comfortable he felt about making Harris inactive. He introduced the idea that Harris' hamstring contributed to the decision, even if Harris dismissed that notion.
Pressed after Sunday night's win why practice-squad player Anthony Walters
was in uniform but not Harris, Smith cited special-teams needs. That didn't explain choosing Meriweather over Harris. On the day Meriweather signed, special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Meriweather didn't play special teams. So what gave him the nod over Harris? Follow the money.
The Bears signed Meriweather for $3.25 million. So far, the only people happy about that investment are the folks at NFL Charities who benefit from the fines Meriweather has incurred leading with his helmet.
Harris possesses less athleticism but uses his head for more constructive purposes. A player with his smarts and savvy still has value in a Bears secondary lacking both. A sudden fall from grace says more about the Bears than it does Harris.