Bears Release Chris Harris

S Chris Harris (Dennis Wierzbicki/USP)

It's been a crazy ride for safety Chris Harris during the 2011 season. That ride, as far as his days in Chicago, appears to have ended. The team announced this morning they have released Harris.

The Chicago Bears have officially released safety Chris Harris. The news comes just four days after the six-year veteran started for the team in London against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It's been a rough season for Harris, who hasn't looked anywhere near the player he was last season, when he led the team in interceptions. He's been burned on numerous occasions down field, most notably on a 73-yard touchdown to Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in Week 5.

Harris has also taken some bad angles in run support which have led to big gains by opposing ball carriers. He's been dealing with a hamstring injury for most of the campaign, although he said a few weeks ago it wasn't bothering him. On the tape though, Harris looks slow and out of sorts.

For the season, he has just eight tackles and one pass defended, with no interceptions.

In Week 6, Harris was benched and then deactivated for the team's tilt against the Minnesota Vikings. The following day, his agent requested permission to seek a trade, which was granted by the organization. Nothing happened at the trade deadline and Harris remained in Chicago.

He was called into duty last week due to an injury to Major Wright. The coaches weren't impressed -- he gave up a deep touchdown to Tampa Bay receiver Dezmon Briscoe -- and decided it would be better for the team to part ways rather than keep a disgruntled player on the roster.

Harris appeared in 44 games (39 starts) over four seasons (2005-06 and 2010-11) with the Bears, recording 234 tackles, 10 interceptions, three fumble recoveries and four tackles for losses. In seven NFL seasons with Chicago and Carolina (2007-09), Harris appeared in 88 contests (83 starts), gathering 474 tackles, 15 interceptions, 25 pass break ups, 12 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and four tackles for losses.

The team will go forward with rookie Chris Conte and second-year player Major Wright as the safety starters, with Brandon Meriweather the primary backup at both free and strong safety. Chicago worked out six players yesterday, two of which were safeties, and recently added rookie S Anthony Walters to the 53-man roster. Obviously, the team isn't done trying solidify that back end of the secondary.

It's a process that has been ongoing since GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith have been in Chicago. Angelo has drafted a safety in nearly every draft for the Bears, while Smith has used 50 different safety combinations during his time in Chicago.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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