Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 27 Days with Walt Harris

Chicago Bears, Walt Harris
Chicago Bears, Walt Harris / Tom Pidgeon/GettyImages
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Walt Harris becomes perennial starter with Chicago Bears

In his first year with the Bears, Harris quickly worked his way into head coach Dave Wannstedt's starting lineup and played with the first team in 13 of the 15 games that he was available for. He finished his rookie campaign with two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and nearly 100 total tackles, a solid debut for the highly touted ballhawk.

Heading into his second season, Harris had cemented himself as a full-time starter and served as a boundary cornerback in all 16 of the team's regular season games. During the year, he hauled in an impressive five interceptions, good enough for a top-10 finish across the league in picks, and added four forced fumbles and 83 total tackles.

Over his first two seasons, Harris had an impressive start to his career, and the Bears remained around the middle of the league with a combined 11-21 record during this span. Unfortunately, in the following years of Harris's Bears career, the team would struggle greatly despite the cornerback's quality play.

In 1998, Harris finished with four interceptions, one of which was returned for his first NFL touchdown, a fumble recovery, and 69 total tackles. The team, however, managed only four wins on the season, and the front office made a coaching change ahead of Harris's fourth season, bringing in Dick Jauron to lead the charge.

In his first season under his second professional head coach, Harris played well despite a decrease in total turnovers. With just one interception on the year, the cornerback also had a strong 14 pass deflections and his first career sack. The team as a whole seemed to respond to a new coach, and the Bears finished with a 6-10 record, a slight bump from their previous totals.

During the 2000 season, Harris turned in another strong campaign despite missing four games to injury. In 12 games as a starter, the Mississippi State product totalled two interceptions, one of which he took for a touchdown, and 42 total touchdowns. The team struggled again during the season, but after posting just five wins, the 2001 season would prove to be a turning point for both Harris and the team.