Harris has to Grow Up in a Hurry

Lake Forest – While the demotion of Mike Green came as no surprise, starting a rookie free safety against three former first round picks at receiver is not an ideal situation.

The Bears have always tried to find competition for Green, including Bobby Gray and Todd Johnson. The reason he was not highly regarded by Lovie Smith is he never came up with the ball. The former "Mr. Irrelevant" has three career interceptions in 43 starts.

Smith emphasizes turnovers and Green didn't supply the type of juice he wanted from what is supposed to be a playmaking position.

Chris Harris played free safety the bulk of his time at Louisiana-Monroe and is accustomed to going after the ball in centerfield. He had 14 interceptions in college, including 7 as a senior.

"I think what Chris gives us is a young man that is a true safety and plays that type of range mentality that he has the ability to go from numbers to numbers," Rivera said.

However, he has never faced the likes of Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Charles Rogers.

"Frightening, good thing there is only one football at a time," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera at the prospect of trying to stop the trio. "I think the thing about them is they all have their own special traits and I think this is a very dangerous group."

The defensive priority will be to stop the run, which means eight men in the box and more pressure on Harris when the Lions go deep. At six-foot, 205 pounds he has the size to compete for the ball, but will he be in the right place?

One of the most curious statements of the week came from Smith on the announcement that Harris would replace Green in the starting lineup.

"We feel like Chris has quite a bit of potential and we haven't really seen him in a game type situation," Smith said. "We'd like to see what he can do in a game."

Harris played a lot in the preseason, but to give him an audition for a starting role in a crucial division game is a questionable decision. The safeties were rotated frequently in training camp so considering Green's quick hook, his standing was not firm going into the season.

Giving Harris a start during the preseason would have allowed him to learn without fear of error. It could have been written off as an experiment, which was the reason for the rotating chairs at safety in Bourbonnais.

In the short term, the defense may have been better served with moving Mike Brown back to free safety and Johnson into the starting lineup at strong safety.

"Yeah, I was a little surprised but I've been working strong safety and he's been working free safety so I understand where they are coming from," Johnson said of being leapfrogged by Harris.

Harris has the talent to come up with a big play against Detroit. He will have plenty of opportunities to do so because Joey Harrington will test the rookie frequently on Sunday.

"Hey, I'm ready to get out there," Harris said. "I'm anxious."

The Lions group of receivers has the same frame of mind about facing Harris.


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