22 Starters in 22 Days: Tommie Harris

Tommie Harris opened eyes by being voted to the Pro Bowl in just his second NFL season. In spite of early success, the 23-year-old defensive tackle has room for improvement as he still learns the finer points of the game.

The Pro Bowl nod speaks volume about the respect Harris has gained around the league in a short period of time. Looking strictly at his numbers, nothing jumps off the page. He had 59 tackles (7 for loss), 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

However, the presence of the six-foot-3, 300-pounder is what allowed the defensive line to dominate for parts of the season. Harris often commands a double-team which allows other members of the front four to take advantage of one-on-one blocks.

Harris is a disruptive force with the ability to break into the backfield on any play. Consistency is what will allow him to take his game to the next level. At times he looks like the best player on the field, but he also has a tendency to get out of position or to disappear for parts of a game.

With quickness comparable to a defensive end, Harris can beat most opponents with athletic ability. As he gains experience the mental aspect of the game with catch-up with his talent. The combination could lead to Harris becoming the best interior lineman in the game.

While Harris has started 32 consecutive games, he has just 6.5 career sacks. He should be able to reach the number over the course of one season. Getting to the quarterback will produce return trips to the Pro Bowl and equates to a big contract.

The solid rotation at defensive tackle should also help Harris remain at his best over the course of a 16-week regular season and what the Bears hope is a long playoff run. Even though Tank Johnson could miss the start of the season with a torn quad muscle, Alfonso Boone and third round pick Dusty Dvoracek should provide depth behind starters Harris and Ian Scott.

Although Harris has always been a spirited competitor, reuniting him with Dvoracek could yield interesting results. The duo wreaked havoc for the Oklahoma Sooners in the same defensive scheme the Bears currently run.

Harris has fulfilled much of his potential since the Bears took him with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft. Nevertheless, it seems like the best is yet to come.

Bear Report Top Stories