Harris relegated to spectator again

Mike Martz talks to Matt Forte, left, and Frank Omiyale during a workout on Wednesday at Halas Hall. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- For the second consecutive week Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris was merely a spectator on the field during the open media session.

Harris, who suffered a knee injury last season in Carolina, said his health is not an issue.

"I'm feeling good, feeling great, just ready to get it started come August," Harris said Wednesday. "I've been smiling ever since I got here, and it feels good to get back in this scheme because I'm very familiar with it. I think I'll bring a little leadership in the back end, you know, making sure the communication is on point as far as the secondary is concerned. I'll be that vocal guy back there in the back end."

The Bears re-acquired Harris from the Carolina Panthers in April for linebacker Jamar Williams.

"Chris Harris coming back was exactly what I remember," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He's moved right into that role. Chris will have more of a leadership role, too. He's a vocal guy, [and it's] like having another coach on the field."

The Bears badly need Harris to provide the safety position with experience and leadership, something the group lacked last season. Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks each spent time working at safety with Harris on the sidelines.

  • With Olin Kreutz back in the middle at center, Josh Beekman and Lance Louis received first-team reps at guard. Beekman eventually replaced Kreutz at center during team drills at the conclusion of the workout, allowing Johan Asiata to slide in at left guard. It will be extremely interesting to note how the Bears divvy up starters' reps once training camp opens up at the end of July.

  • Smith singled out Brandon Manumaleuna's inability to participate in workouts as one of the few "downers" of the program. Manumaleuna is attempting to recover from the effects of offseason knee surgery.

  • A recent rash of OTA violations has prompted the league to consider changing its policies in regard to offseason workouts. The Bears opted to use the maximum 14 organized team activities, although the final session always takes place away from Halas Hall in the form of a movie, bowling, or some other team event."I like the way it is right now," Smith said. "The Commissioner hasn't said a lot about our practices. We try to follow the rules. That's one of my main jobs. Whenever you put the helmets on you have to watch the guys. They always would like the do a little bit more, but we watch that. This is a teaching phase of our offseason, and our guys know the rules and we go by them."

    Smith also commented on the possibility of the NFL expanding the regular season to 18 games.

    "I follow the Commissioner's lead, how is that," Smith said. "Right now, we have a good game. You look at our season right now as we go through, most teams really use three of the preseason games quite a bit. As long as we're all going by the same rules we can adjust with it. Whatever they decide is what we'll be for."