Laughing At Last

Bears cornerback Walt Harris finally could laugh along with other members of the team's starting secondary after Sunday's 24-0 victory over the Detroit Lions.

    Before Sunday, he was the only starter without an interception -- a penalty had wiped out his only pick of the year.

   Then, with 2:20 left in the game, he stepped in front of a pass Ty Detmer rushed under pressure to wideout Larry Foster, picked it off and raced up the sidelines for a 39-yard touchdown return.

   ``I had to get the monkey off my back,'' Harris said. ``It was pretty heavy. I just knew it was a matter of time.

   ``I feel a little lighter, now.''    Last week at Halas Hall the crows were cackling -- other defensive backs were enjoying Harris' drought at his expense.

    ``They were all over me last week,'' he said. ``They were asking me, `who had the picks,' and they were all like: `Walt has got none!'

    ``I'm saying: awwww man.''    Now Harris thinks he'll get a few more.    ``Now things should all start rolling,'' he said. ``Sometimes it's always hard to get that first one.''

   Now Harris can do the cackling. There is only one starting defensive back without a touchdown return -- Tony Parrish.

   Bears wideout D'Wayne Bates didn't start Sunday's game even after Dez White's hamstring pull, but that was only due to a technicality. Bates wound up taking one more snap than rookie David Terrell, who had started.

  The Bears stuck to their policy of not moving David Terrell to another position and put Bates in at White's position instead.

   ``The first play of the game was a personnel grouping with Marty (Booker) and David on the field,'' offensive coordinator John Shoop said.  ``I told D'Wayne on Friday when Dez went down that the game plan is not going to change at all.

  That just happened to be the first play of the game.

    ``We didn't change the game plan at all whenever Dez went down. We just said `the plays that were going to go to Dez -- D'Wayne, they're going to go to you.' He did a nice job.''

   That was an understatement. Bates, the former Northwestern star who had only seven career receptions, made a career-high four catches for 107 yards.

   Bates appeared headed for nowhere after this season unless he started contributing.

   ``It's nothing fun to be sitting over there,'' he said. ``I like to be on the field. I want to play a lot, but I was doing my best with the role I had.''

   Defensive back Todd McMillon was pressed into playing flyer on punt coverage for the first time in his career due to Larry Whigham's hamstring injury, and downed a ball inside the 5-yard line.

    ``I liked that. Its like a cat and mouse game,'' said    ``I had two people on me and they were trying to beat me down the field. I loved it. It was wild.''

   Another reserve, Alfonso Boone, played a big role as well. Boone saw extensive playing time for defensive tackle Keith Traylor much of the game because of a better pass rush.

   Boone enjoyed winning over his old team, but has to learn to take credit for things he didn't do. Stat keepers gave Boone credit for a sack.

   ``I didn't do it. I didn't make it,'' he said. ``It's not mine."

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