Player Diary: Chris Harris

Lake Forest - The Bears lost two key players last weekend after safeties Bobby Gray and Cameron Worrell suffered season ending injuries against the Colts. Rookie Chris Harris moved ahead of both veterans on the depth before the injuries and is now expected to play an even more prominent role.

With the regular season fast approaching and increased pressure to perform, the backups are stepping up to fill the void. Harris seems to be one of those with the potential to produce at a high level sooner rather than later. The sixth round pick offers his views on the changes to the roster and his increased playing time with the Bears:

You never want to see anybody go down like that. To hear Bobby Gray in such pain on the field was terrible. It's the kind of thing that you just have to put out of your mind after it happens, or it would be bothering you for a long time. I'm sorry about Cameron Worrell, too. I didn't see him get hurt but I heard about it later. They are good guys who gave everything to the game.

While I didn't know either of them well, I certainly can see that their loss had an impact on the rest of the team. All we can do though is to get on and go ahead. Life in the NFL doesn't wait for anybody. You have to be ready when your number is called.

When the Bears drafted me, I hoped that at some point I would be able to get out there and show what I can do for the team. It looks as if that time might be coming. I am getting more reps in practice now than I saw earlier in training camp. I had a number of plays in St. Louis and had more game time the following week in Indianapolis.

What's it like when you are in the lineup? It's great. What else can I say? I was too busy at the time to think much about the situation, but every once in a while I'd catch myself thinking ‘wow, this is exactly what I had hoped for.' All that any player, and rookies in particular, wants is a chance to prove himself. I feel this is my opportunity.

The amazing thing for me in the preseason games has been the chance to be there facing athletes I've idolized for years. You look up and see this player or that player and think ‘I can't believe that I am actually playing against him.' You can't get too carried away with thinking like that though or you'll get distracted and miss the play entirely. But I have to admit that I was watching some of the big name guys before and after the game. When I was in college at Louisiana-Monroe I dreamt of what NFL would be like and it hasn't disappointed.

I was surprised that the actual game situation wasn't that different from college. Or perhaps I've gotten so used to a quicker speed of play from training camp that I am not noticing the difference. One thing that is definitely a change though is the fact that most of the players are larger than those I played against at Louisiana-Monroe. That can make them a little more intimidating at times.

I haven't felt any increased pressure personally since Bobby and Cameron went down. I realize there are fewer of us to produce right now, but I feel overwhelmingly confident. You have to approach things that way to succeed in this business. The other thing I tell myself is that the Bears wouldn't have chosen me if they didn't feel I could be good.

My family is thrilled about this whole thing. It's been a really big deal. I have some relatives in St. Louis who came to see me in that game. They were so excited that they are still talking about it. That was a memorable evening for all of us.

In many respects, I think that my learning curve is somewhat different from that of the other rookies. I've only played football for 5 years. I think most of the other new guys have been on teams since they were in grade school. My interest in grade school and high school was baseball.

I was a pretty good centerfielder. My size and abilities seemed well suited for that position. And now that I think of it, going from patrolling the outfield to free safety makes some sense. Both positions require speed and agility. You have to pay attention to the location of the ball and also have very quick reflexes when a play heads your way.

I always liked the deep ball in baseball and I like it now in football. You look way out in front of you and make your calculations. Where is it going to fall, and how do I get there? That gives you time to make your moves and get situated where you need to be.

I have pretty good instincts for sports, so I am catching up fast as far as understanding the game of football. That's why I am as confident as I am now. If I can't do something today, just show me how and I'll be doing it for you tomorrow. That's what drives me, the desire to accomplish things and to do well in whatever sport I am playing.

I like the guys on the team. The veterans are surprisingly helpful if I ever need advice. Tommie Harris is a young guy, but he's spent considerable time helping me out. He's patient and has a good feel for the game. Rod Wilson has become a close friend. I'd say one of the real positives about the Bears is the camaraderie among the players. There's no bitterness or anybody out to get anybody else.

I'm really looking forward to the start of the season. I want to produce and I feel that I can do positive things for the Bears. I know I'm just a rookie, but I've been waiting for the chance to show what I can do. Just put me out there and I'll do my best to get the job done.

The diary was a summary of an interview between Bradley and Beth Gorr.


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