BOURBONNAIS - Marcus Harrison's battle of the bulge is over - at least for now.
The second-year nose tackle, who is considered a serious contender for the starting job, was able to rejoin his teammates Tuesday afternoon for the first time on the warmest, muggiest practice of training camp. Coaches kept Harrison sidelined for the first four practices because his weight was 15 pounds more than the required 309 when he reported to camp.
"I think he learned his lesson the first day the team was able to practice and he wasn't out there," coach Lovie Smith said. "What he learned is that life goes on without you. He wants to be a part of this, (and) we believe in forgiveness. He's one of the guys now."
The two-man race between veterans Dusty Dvoracek and Anthony Adams is now a three-man battle. Bears coaches and personnel people consider Harrison a hard worker on the field and in the weight room but believe he needs to be more disciplined off the field, where his eating habits need to improve.
"Lovie just wants maturity from me," Harrison said. "Just put whatever happened in the past behind me, move on and grow up."
Harrison said personal problems contributed to his failure to lose the 20 extra pounds that he brought to OTA practices, when he was told to reduce. Among other situations that he didn't divulge, Harrison has been concerned about his mother (Michelle Harrison), who recently underwent surgery to remove cancerous tumors but is now doing fine, according to him.
"I was at the house with her, and she was already on me, telling me I need to come back up to Chicago, which I did, (and) everything is fine now," said Harrison, who learned a lesson about life in the NFL.
"You just have to understand that this is a business," he said. "Even though you have problems and stuff off the field, when it's time to come to work, you have to come to work. I feel bad because those guys (Dvoracek and Adams) were out there breaking their neck just trying to keep everything moving. Now it's my turn to get in there and help."
Asked how much weight he had lost, Harrison said, "It's dropping as we speak," drawing several laughs.
Heat, tempers rise: Guard Tyler Reed and defensive end Mark Anderson started a mini-brawl during pass-rush/pass-blocking drill. About 20 linemen from both sides of the ball joined in the pushing and shoving that morphed into a giant scrum before order was restored.
The fracas began just after the whistle, when Reed pushed Anderson, who retaliated with shove to the facemask. Every player in the drill got involved, including rookie Lance Louis, who ran over while putting his helmet on just to get in on the action. By the end, Reed and a couple of others had gotten their helmets ripped off and each side flung an opposing helmet back toward its respective owner.
A fan yelled, "Save it for the Packers."
Coach Lovie Smith dislikes fights that get out of hand, but he seemed amused by this one.
"It's just a matter of time before tempers will flare up a little bit," he said. "No damage done. I tell guys, 'If you get in a fight, just fight like you would fight your brother and go from there.' "
Tuesday was the fourth straight day in full pads, and after the first bout another skirmish broke out precipitated by a shoving match between cornerback Zack Bowman and wide receiver Earl Bennett. That one wasn't as serious, considering defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and wide receiver Devin Hester were putting fake WWE moves on each other.