Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris leaves the field after being ejected for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter.
Tommie Harris became the first Bear to go into the locker room for good on Sunday.
Three hours earlier than scheduled.
The veteran defensive tackle showed some nice consistency, though, by becoming the first player to escape the locker room after the Bears' 41-21 loss to Arizona at Soldier Field.
That left it to his teammates and his coach to explain why Harris chose to punch Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui on the game's fourth play from scrimmage.
That earned Harris a 15-yard penalty, an ejection and an escort to the empty locker room.
Well after Arizona running back Tim Hightower wrapped up a 13-yard run, Lutui landed atop Harris. Once Harris reversed him and earned top position, he finished his move by punching Lutui's helmet.
"You never see the first offender," said safety Danieal Manning. "You always see the second offender."
If that indeed was the case, Harris apparently didn't try to play it off as such with his teammates.
"Yeah, he just apologized, and we understood," Manning said.
Well, almost everybody understood. Defensive end Alex Brown sounded irked at his linemate when asked about his transgression.
"I'm not talking about Tommie, all right?" Brown said. "I'm not talking about him. I don't want to talk about him."
A little later, though, Brown mentioned Harris as part of his critique of the Bears' inability to get to Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner.
"As ends, we can't just run around the quarterback (when he steps up in the pocket)," Brown said. "We've got to get some pressure up the middle. Ninety-one going out hurt us a lot, but we've got guys that can play."
Marcus Harrison and Israel Idonije spent time at the "3" technique in Harris' absence. Idonije earned one quarterback hit when he forced Kurt Warner into a rare incompletion during the second quarter.
It seems unlikely Harris faces a suspension for his punch, though the New York Jets suspended James Ihedigbo and Marques Murrell last month for punching Buffalo's Derek Fine.
At the minimum, Harris' wallet will be lighter before the Bears play at San Francisco on Thursday.
Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't offer any hints as to his thinking - other than he considered it an isolated episode that shouldn't be tied to events such as Harris' inactive status two weeks prior at Cincinnati.
"There's nothing Tommie can really tell me," Smith said. "He got kicked out of the football game for punching a guy.
"He lost it today (only). That's all we can go on, reality, on what happened. Tommie got kicked out of the football game today. The week before he played pretty good.
"The first step, of course, is to keep him on the football field and then see what happens."