Harris reports to Bears camp healthy

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- For the first time in recent memory, Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris reported to training camp without carrying any offseason injury baggage.

"It's a confidence builder," Harris said Thursday evening. "Being able to come out here injury-free, participate in every minicamp, OTAs. It's a confidence builder, and hopefully I can continue to build on that."

Although Harris has missed only seven career regular-season games, the former Pro Bowl defender's knee problems have been well-documented. Those ailments caused Harris to frequently miss practices over the past few years. After failing to dress in October versus Cincinnati due to a coach's decision, Harris began to practice on a more frequent basis. It sounds like the plan this summer is for Harris to continue on the same schedule.

"All of our players are ready to go," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "When I say ready to go, I'm talking about practicing every day. We'll adjust guys as practice goes along as you normally do during training camp, but Tommie went through every offseason workout, every OTA practice. He's healthy. We're not talking about his injuries anymore. That's all in the past."

"I'm more than able to go through every practice," Harris said. "I was more than able last year also, but I do what the doctors tell me to do, I do what Coach Smith tells me to do. I have got up in age [27] since playing, so if they say I need to sit, I'll sit. I don't think the championship or the Super Bowl is won during training camp in these one-day practices. I just feel like I will be ready for the season."

Since being named Bears head coach prior to the 2004 season, Smith has made it a habit of giving veteran players certain days off during camp, a practice Harris fully endorses.

"It's not a good thing, it's a great thing," Harris said about the occasional rest. "I'm looking forward to going through every practice, pursuing every practice, that's how it's going to be. But if they tell me I need to sit, I understand that. The older I get now, I can understand when a veteran needs to sit out. But [missing a practice] due to injury, no."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.