It’s no secret that Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is one of the tougher players in the National Football League. This is evident by the knee and groin injuries that he’s been playing through over the last couple of weeks. This week, Tillman has been limited in practice as the Bears prepare to take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday. This will be the Bears first division road game of 2013. No. 33 says that he will start this Sunday, while the Bears medical staff has been cautious to agree with him.
There is no doubt however that the Bears do need Tillman against the Lions this week. Here are the reasons why……… For starters, Tillman is probably the only corner in the NFC North division that can “contain” Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on a consistent basis. Tillman has proved this during the last few meetings between these two franchises.
His ability to cover taller, bigger receivers, his ability to create turnovers and his ability to break up big passes suit the Bears well against Detroit. The Bears will also need Tillman because of the issues with the defensive line. The Bears have had very little success in putting pressure on the quarterback so far this season. Julius Peppers has not been 100-percent healthy, Henry Melton just went on injured reserve and the rest of the line has struggled to some degree.
It’s because of those reasons that the Bears will need “Peanut” out there on the field this Sunday. If the line can’t get pressure on Matthew Stafford, he will be free to throw down field all day. If that ends up being the case, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker would be in great need of his best cover corner. Lastly, the Bears also need Tillman because of concerns about the players behind him should he not play. Tim Jennings will play in Detroit, but the Bears’ coaches worry about whether or not the 5 foot 8 inch Jennings can handle the 6 foot 5 inch Calvin Johnson.
Should Tillman not be able to play he will most likely be replaced by Zach Bowman. While Bowman may have speed and is a solid tackler, he does not have the cover skills that Tillman does. He also does not have the same ability to create turnovers. While many would like to believe that Isaiah Frey could step in with no problem, the second-year corner has yet to show the same play making abilities that he showed in training camp and the preseason. Tillman isn’t the only injured corner on the Bears roster, Sherrick McManis is also in some pain this week.
The last cornerback on the active roster is rookie C.J. Wilson, who is mostly a special teams player. The Lions are hoping that Tillman won’t suit up on Sunday because it will be a huge advantage for them. If the Bears cannot get it together on defense, it will be very difficult to hang onto their first place lead in the NFC North. It will also hurt their chances of finishing the month of September undefeated. With too many question marks with the rest of the depth chart, let us pray that No. 33 will be healed in time for Sunday’s kickoff.
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