Bears DT Harris wants to stay despite reduced playing time

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tommie Harris said he wants to stay with the Chicago Bears even though they benched him for Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers.

The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle gave an emphatic no when asked if he wants to be dealt.

"No, I don't want to be traded," Harris said after practice Thursday. "I love Chicago. I love my team. I love my teammates, and I play hard. I play hard for my players, and that's what I do every time I'm out there."

But if he's not playing?

"That's not a big deal for me," Harris said. "It's all about winning. And when you win, nothing really matters at the end of the day."

At 3-0, the Bears are the lone unbeaten team in the NFC. Harris, however, hasn't come close to his old Pro Bowl level even though he's practicing more than he has in recent memory after being limited by knee and hamstring problems the past few years.

Being inactive for the Monday night game was "very disturbing," and Harris isn't sure if he'll play Sunday, when the Bears visit the New York Giants.

Harris said he didn't see the benching coming, even though he had only one tackle without a sack through the first two games.

"I think I did all right, but I didn't do 'Tommie Harris' good, my standards ... a Pro Bowl level, but it will get to that," he said.

This wasn't the first time the Bears benched Harris.

He was held out of a game last year and got suspended by the team for one in 2008 because of detrimental conduct, but Bears coach Lovie Smith again indicated Thursday that this decision was based solely on performance.

"We haven't complained about what Tommie's done as far as trying to get ready for the game each week," Smith said. "A good practice today. We'll see how it goes."

Harris said he "just had to do what was best for the team."

When asked if he believed being inactive was in fact the best thing for the Bears, Harris responded by telling reporters to ask Smith.

Smith gave a similar answer when asked if he knew beforehand that Harris would be benched.

"We tell all of our players a little bit before the game," Smith said. "You don't have to tell anyone until then. All of our players knew exactly who was going to be up before the game."

Asked if he believes Smith might be losing patience with him, Harris said: "I'm not really worried about that. All I can control is what I can control. Just come in here and be prepared."

Does this motivate him?

"I don't need motivation," Harris said. "I'm a grown man. I just come to work."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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