Change for a nickel

While rookie <!--Default NodeId For Charles Tillman is 738190,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:738190]>Charles Tillman</A> is currently the No. 1 nickel back, last year's third-round pick Ro Williams and veteran <!--Default NodeId For Todd McMillon is 722205,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:722205]>Todd McMillon</A> are still in the running.

"Clearly we spent a high draft pick on both (Tillman and Williams)," Jauron said. "Roosevelt's been here for a year, so he's got a little bit of experience on Charles. I think people focus primarily on them because of how high we took them, but Todd's got experience. Todd's played back there, so it's definitely open."

Williams started two games near the end of last season when R.W. McQuarters was out with a hip injury. McMillon started the second game of the season when McQuarters was out with a sprained knee. But neither performed well enough to prevent the Bears from trying to upgrade at a position that was found wanting in the depth department when injuries accumulated.

"It's up to the coaches who they want on the field, and that's who they want on the field so I agree with that," Williams said of Tillman. "When it's my time to shine, I'm going to shine. But Peanut's a good athlete. Me and him talk all the time. He asks me for pointers and I give him pointers. It's not like a controversy or anything because he's my teammate. When my number's called I have to answer."

McMillon, who will be 29 on Sept. 29, played in the Canadian Football League from 1997-99 and NFL Europe in 2001.

"I've been through it, and you never know how things pan out," said McMillon, who could be playing for a roster spot. "You can't go out there and worry about who's in front of you and where they drafted this guy and that guy."

As a four-year starter in college, Tillman got plenty of playing time, but it was against competition in the Sun Belt Conference that pales in comparison to that of the NFL. To Tillman it doesn't matter.

"I don't think it's going to be that tough," he said of the step up in talent. "I'm very confident in myself. It doesn't matter what school you go to because guys get drafted in the seventh round and go to schools you never heard of, and they come here and they ball. I don't get mad, but that motivates me more. 'OK, I go to a sorry school or a smaller school?' I don't say nothing (when people imply that). I'll just show you on the field."

If he wins the job, Tillman will be on the same field with Pro Bowl receivers like the Vikings' Randy Moss and the Packers' Donald Driver twice a year, the 49ers' Terrell Owens, and future Hall of Famers like the Raiders' Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.

"Yeah, I'm overwhelmed by it, but at the same time, I'm not scared of it either," Tillman said. "I'll always respect my competition. I respect the receiver that I go against, and I'll respect but team, but at the same time I'm confident in myself to know that they're human just like me. He's going to make mistakes just like me, he's good like me, and we're just going to battle. May the best man win."

Tillman is confident enough that he's already admitted to teammates that his nickname, and the only name he's known by to friends and family, is "Peanut." He even has the name tattooed on his left arm along with the Mr. Peanut character, complete with cane and tap shoes. The name's been with Tillman almost since the second he was born and an aunt said: "He's so small, he looks like a little peanut."

"I never had a say-so in the name," the 22-year-old said. "It was just one of those names that stuck.

"When I was small, it was bad to be Peanut because I had the little slant in (the top of) my head that (looked like a peanut), and when you're in kindergarten or first grade, everybody makes fun of you. But, when I got to high school, girls were like, 'Peanut? That's cute.' So I was like, 'OK, call me Peanut.' "

It's not right up there with the all-time tough football nicknames like Hacksaw Reynolds, Mean Joe Greene or Bulldog Turner, but it could be worse. Tillman's brother, Donald, is nicknamed Duck.


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