|Tommie Harris hopes to put aside doubts when Bears open season at San Diego|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 13:04|
They won't disappear until the Pro Bowl defensive tackle makes his first cut or delivers a hit in the Chicago Bears' opener at San Diego on Sunday.
``If you broke your arm and you went out to do something, wouldn't you (think) 'I remember the feeling of this being broken,''' said Harris, who underwent season-ending surgery on his left hamstring last December. ``That's kind of going to hinder you from doing that same movement for a while. So you've got to break yourself and get over the fear, and then you'll be able to do everything the same. You just have to trust your surgeon and trust that everything went right.''
For now, he's still a bit hesitant.
Harris is an exception in a locker room where confidence is flowing like champagne after a championship victory. The Bears came up a win short last season, losing to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl, and their expectations are soaring.
Wide receiver Rashied Davis looked around the locker room and said, ``What weaknesses? I don't see any.''
Linebacker Brian Urlacher said this about a defense that has ranked among the best the past few years: ``I think we're better than we were last year on defense.''
Harris won't argue.
His concerns are centered on himself, and they're more mental than physical. He wonders how he'll respond when he takes the field on Sunday, not whether the Bears are good enough to make it back to the Super Bowl.
The defending NFC champions can cite numerous reasons why they think they're better on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Rex Grossman has a full year of experience as a starter, after being limited by injuries in 2004 and 2005, and he has no shortage of targets. Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian lead a deep set of receivers that includes a healthy Mark Bradley, and first-round draft pick Greg Olsen gives the Bears another pass-catching tight end to go with Desmond Clark.
On defense, the Bears point to the addition of strong safety Adam Archuleta and defensive tackle Darwin Walker, who replaced the troubled Tank Johnson. And they point to their health.
Harris' season ended when he slipped on wet grass during the game against Minnesota on Dec. 3, ripping his left hamstring from the bone. It was the second major blow for the Bears - who had already lost safety Mike Brown to a foot injury six games into the season. And the defense wasn't the same, slipping to fifth after being ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
The swagger never returned even as the Bears made that run in the playoffs, and the Colts rolled up 430 yards of offense in the Super Bowl.
Harris showed up for training camp calling himself the ``Real Deal,'' and it's tough to argue, considering he made the past two Pro Bowls and had a career-high five sacks last season. It's no stretch to think that the Bears' hopes hinge largely on his hamstring.
With Harris, Walker and Dusty Dvoracek, the Bears believe they have a rotation that can wreak havoc, a sharp turnaround considering the position seemed like an area of concern after Johnson's release. Dvoracek, who missed his rookie season with a foot injury, played well enough to hold off Walker's bid to start.
``Everybody's now seeing what I've known since I've been with the guy, when he was 19 years old,'' Harris said of his teammate at Oklahoma. ``I expect him to play great every Sunday. He plays hard, he works hard.''
And now, Dvoracek has a chance to show what he can do after spending a year observing.
``I feel whenever I put my mind to something I can overcome anything and come back stronger, and that's what I tried to do,'' he said. ``Hopefully, that's what happens.''
Harris feels the same way.
Playing the first two series of the preseason finale against Cleveland helped him clear some mental hurdles, but a few still lie ahead.
``I feel like I'm there more and more, but there are still some things that I'm hesitant about,'' Harris said.