The Bear Den: Is It a Make or Break Season for Tommie Harris?

Zack PearsonCorrespondent IMay 30, 2009

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 11:  Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears looks on against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field on December 11, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Ever since Tommie Harris' injury in 2006, which cost him to miss the playoffs and untimely the Super Bowl, the once feared defensive lineman just hasn't been the same.

In his rookie year of 2004, Tommie recorded 43 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He had a pretty good year in 2005 also, having 32 tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles. In 12 games in the 2006 season, he had 28 tackles and five sacks.

Tommie was a dominant force for the Bears. He was moving up the ladder and making a name for himself as one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL, until Tommie went down with a hamstring injury that cost him the rest of the season.

See, stats were not everything for Tommie. Even if they didn't show it, Tommie was a dominant lineman for the Bears. Causing havoc in opponents backfields for one of the NFL's best defense in 2005-06.

The next year Tommie returned, playing in all sixteen games. His numbers didn't match his previous production for the Bears. He was also bugged by a knee injury that seemed to slow him down just a step or two.

In 2008, Harris only played in 14 games and was bugged by an apparent knee injury. He finished with 37 tackles and five sacks. Those aren't bad, but Tommie didn't look like his old dominant self.

Is 2009, a make or break year for Tommie? What happens if that knee injury bugs him again, and he cant get pressure on the quarterback?

Only time will tell for Tommie, but time might be running out.

If Tommie has a bad year in 2009, I expect the Bears to try and trade him and maybe get youth or a draft pick.

Still, the Bears depth on the defensive line is good enough to pick up the slack for Harris. Ogunleye, Brown, Dvoracek, and Anderson all can fill in for Tommie.

If Harris is dominant and can get good pressure on the quarterback, the Bears might have another best in the NFL defense.

It all relies on Tommie.