After playing poorly against the Lions in week five, the Bears made veteran safety Chris Harris inactive for their week six game against the Vikings. Angry about this, Harris requested a trade, but Jerry Angelo was unable to find any takers for Harris' services before last Tuesday's trade deadline.
And last week's game against the Buccaneers, the Bears made safety Major Wright a late scratch due to a hip injury, after he was listed as "Probable" to play. The Bears chose to not just make Harris active for this game, but even started him. This gave him a chance to at least show that he deserves to be active weekly, if not starting. And again, he played poorly. He was burned badly for a passing touchdown, and looked very slow in coverage all day.
Well today, the Bears decided to finally move on, as Harris was released. The Bears feel more comfortable with rookie safety Chris Conte(who had an incredible interception against the Buccaneers and overall, looked great over the last two weeks), and second-year safety Wright. They want to be more athletic at the position, and to get their "future" going at safety now with Conte and Wright. Additionally, Harris is not a contributor on special teams, so if he's not going to start, there's more value found in backups that can at least help out on special teams.
Here's some of what Lovie Smith had to say today about Harris' release:
"We'll talk about Chris. Chris Harris helped us win a lot of football games around here. One of the guys.
"But, it is a business, and for us, it's about production. We felt like we had some other options that we felt pretty good about, at the safety position. Had a chance to talk to Chris this morning.
"That's never any fun, when you have to go a different direction again, from one of the guys who's been around here for a while. But we did.
"We're excited about the safeties we do have here. You don't make a move like that, unless you feel good about it, and we do."
Chris Conte we moved him into the starting lineup a couple of weeks ago, we've been very pleased with what we've gotten from him -- as a tackler, just a guy in the middle of the field with a lot of range, we drafted him to some day be our safety. That time is now. The same thing with Major Wright. Major is a good tackler. He's a good player. These aren't veteran players, but they'll get better each rep. We feel like we can play winning football with them. Brandon Meriweather, moving into the third safety slot also. Craig Steltz, Anthony Walters. We still have five safeties on our roster. No team has six safeties on their roster. This is the right thing to do and we'll see how it turns out.
Source: Sean Jensen(Chicago Sun-Times)
The Bears worked out six free agents at Halas Hall yesterday, including safeties Tom Nelson and Darcel McBath. As you can see in the above excerpt, Lovie pointed out that the Bears "still have five safeties", and "no team has six safeties on their roster", so they may elect to fill out the roster with a player at another position.
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