LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The coaching staff’s decision to insert rookie Major Wright into the rotation at safety shouldn’t taint the delicate chemistry at the position between starters Chris Harris and Danieal Manning, who have performed relatively well over the season's first eight games.
In fact, the starters welcome the addition of Wright, who missed the last five games after severely pulled hamstring sustained Week 2 at Dallas, before returning to action last Sunday for the Bears' 22-19 win over the Buffalo Bills. Wright provides an opportunity for Harris and Manning to remain fresh throughout a game, without the Bears experiencing a drop off in play at the position.
“I don’t worry about this messing up the chemistry at all,” Harris said. “It really doesn’t matter to me because the chemistry is going to be there. You create chemistry in practice so that when you’re out there on the field, it just comes natural.”
Wright subbed in for Harris at the 12:06 mark of the second quarter against the Bills and played eight snaps without the secondary missing a beat. During the drive, Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 3 of 5 for 34 yards with Chicago stopping the Bills at the Bears 38 on the heels of a C.J. Spiller run for minus-4 yards and two consecutive incompletions.
Harris returned to the lineup on the next defensive series.
“I feel like we have a great group of guys, so I think the rotation is used to get guys like Chris and me a rest,” Manning said. “I do a lot on special teams, so that will give us a rest and keep guys fresh. We just have so much talent in the secondary for the coaches to choose from. For the most part, if a guy was making plays in training camp like Major, that guy deserves to play.”
That coaching staff seemed to feel the same way back in the offseason, but a series of injuries to Wright derailed the team’s initial plans. In fact, it might be said that Wright’s injury-riddled training camp kept him from assuming one of the starting safety spots manned by Harris and Manning.
Wright missed time with a strained groin early in training camp, and later broke a finger in his debut in the club’s preseason opening at San Diego.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli compared the rotation in the secondary to what the club does with the front four.
“It’s just like the front,” Marinelli said of the situation at safety. “What you do is try to build depth as the season goes on.”
Manning and Harris currently rank third and fifth on the team in tackles, respectively, with 51 and 47 stops, in addition to one interception apiece.
It appears so far the Bears will substitute Wright for Harris whenever they make changes at safety. That was the plan going into Week 2 when Wright suffered the injury against the Cowboys. Asked whether he was concerned about Wright taking away some of his snaps, Harris said, “Absolutely not.”
“I think it’s a huge help to keep all three of us fresh throughout a game,” Harris said. “It helps you at the end of a half, when teams are doing two-minute drills. You’re a little fresher over the course of a game, so I think it helps a lot.”