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Bears counting on Harris for Sunday

Chris Harris missed his second straight practice on Thursday but the Bears are optimistic that he will play against the Packers on Sunday. Mike DiNovo/US Presswire

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Charles Tillman didn't hesitate. Asked on Thursday to summarize safety Chris Harris' contributions to the Chicago Bears' defense, the veteran cornerback narrowed it down to one simple word.

“Leadership," Tillman said.

Leadership the Bears defense desperately needs at safety in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Harris has maintained all week he plans to suit up and play, but he missed practice again on Thursday because of a hip-pointer suffered in the Bears' 35-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

"He's got great instincts, he can make plays versus the run and pass," fellow safety Danieal Manning said. "But he's so smart. He is very, very intelligent. He's like an extra coach on the field. Brian [Urlacher] and Chris get everything together. Brian gets the linebackers and defensive line all set, then Chris makes sure everyone in the secondary is playing their part and getting all the keys down. It's hard for us to miss a beat with Chris."

The vibe around Halas Hall is that Harris will at least attempt to play against Green Bay. But how serious is the injury, and can the six-year NFL veteran finish the game?

There is no way to answer those questions before kickoff.

"We played in the playoff game without him against Seattle, and I feel like we did a good job in that one," Manning said. "I would hate for Chris to miss a playoff game, but sometimes that's just the way things happen. In the Super Bowl run, we didn't have Mike Brown or Tommie Harris. You have to move on. You can't have that linger and go into a game worrying about that. We're getting him healed as fast as we can, so hopefully we can play with him. If not, we got [rookie] Major [Wright]. He's very dependable.

"[Wright] definitely had all the reps you could possibly have, going through every scenario that could happen, all the ups and down. He's done well."