Harris has ‘no issues’ in return to Bears’ practice

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Back at practice, Tommie Harris appeared to be in a good mood as he walked off the field giggling with linebackers Lance Briggs and Jamar Williams.

He didn’t stop to talk. Didn’t acknowledge requests for comment.

Harris had nothing to say, although the fact that the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle practiced Wednesday for the Chicago Bears was telling. Coach Lovie Smith made it clear he has to practice if he wants to play, and the message apparently got through.

Harris participated without limitations for the first time on a Wednesday since the season opener after sitting out practice last week and being held out of a 45-10 loss at Cincinnati.

“By giving him off last week, he was able to get a little more work in this week so that’s got to be good for him,” Smith said.

The positive spin came on the heels of a loud message from Smith, who confirmed Monday that he benched Harris against the Bengals even though he could have played after being listed as doubtful because of his chronic left knee injury. On the surface, it appeared to amount to a paid suspension for a player who hasn’t always stuck to his rehab regimen.

“It’s not like I’ve had a problem with Tommie practicing,” Smith said. “Physically, we’ve chosen to keep him out to try to let him get in a little bit better position to play Sunday. Giving him the week off last week, we feel like we’re ahead of the 8-ball a little bit. It’s not like he’s bowed up about practicing. He wants to practice.”

Asked if Harris will continue to practice without limitations, Smith said, “I can talk on today. Tommie had an excellent day today. There were no issues.”