Warren Sapp rips Bears’ Tommie Harris for not playing with more awareness

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris  of the Chicago Bears pressures Shaun Hill  of the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Warren Sapp made his money playing in the “Tampa 2” defense that the Chicago Bears currently employ under head coach Lovie Smith (a disciple of Tony Dungy). And considering how successful he was in that system, it was interesting to hear his thoughts on Bears’ defensive tackle Tommie Harris in an appearance on WSCR-AM 670 Wednesday evening.

Here are Sapp’s comments about Harris, courtesy from the Chicago Tribune:

“You can’t do that as an under tackle in that defense,” Sapp said. “He needs to set the table and have a quarterback sitting right there on the stage for Julius to come around the corner. He doesn’t have a problem with getting up the middle. It was just the awareness of the game that really eluded it for me. From what I know about the position, it just looked bad.”

“I never got in his corner, that’s the whole point of it,” said Sapp, who had 96 1/2 sacks in 13 seasons. “He was never my guy. It was always he was supposed to be this and … that. Now he says he’s healthy again so let’s see.

“There has only been one of me. He plays the game with no awareness. If you’re talking about a three-technique in that system, you can’t play like that.”

Harris went to three straight Pro Bowls from 2005 to 2007, but his production fell off a cliff after he signed a $40 million contract extension in June of ’08. Some of that has to do with injuries, but some feel that his work ethic and desire have also been lacking.

While Sapp may have been harsh in his criticisms, he probably echoed what some have already been thinking about Harris – that he’s just going through the motions or is playing selfish football. Granted, Harris did have two quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in last week’s win over the Lions, so maybe he’s starting to get back to being the player he was earlier in this career. (Keep in mind that this was the first offseason that he’s been completely healthy since 2006, so injuries have played a role in him underachieving over the last couple of years.)

Regardless of what Sapp said (or if he’s right or not), it’s time for Harris to step up. If the Bears are going to keep pace with the Packers in the NFC North, they’ll need a dominant effort from their defensive line week in and week out.

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