Tillman Returning to Form

Charles Tillman looked to be a potential shutdown corner as a rookie only to see his second season in the league take an unwanted detour. With an injury behind him and his confidence restored, Tillman is poised for a big season.

After starting 13 games and tying for the team lead with four interceptions, Tillman came in 2004 with high expectations. However, the hopes were quickly derailed in Week 2 when he suffered a fracture of the right tibia plateau -- a soft-tissue area on the outside of his knee. The injury kept him out for eight games and limited his effectiveness when he returned. The six-foot-1, 196-pounder finished the year without an interception.

Tillman has worked to rectify the lack of ball handling. He's come up with several turnovers over the first week of training camp.

"I've seen a couple of good defensive backs before and I just really think he's playing at a high level," said head coach Lovie Smith of Tillman. "This is what we pictured him being. He's got great size, he's got a lot of ability and he practices hard every day."

The competition between Tillman and two-time Pro Bowl wideout Muhsin Muhammad, has proven to be to the benefit of both players. Each has come up with their fair share of victories.

"Of course Moose is a pro and Charles is definitely holding his own with him and it's fun to watch two good players compete like that," Smith said.

Color Coordinated
Bobby Gray has played well enough in practice to warrant reps with the first team defense. Monday evening, Gray worked at strong safety with Mike Brown moving back over to free safety and Mike Green working with the second string defense.

"At this point in time we've been a week into camp and I just felt like this point in time we need to kind of mix it up a little bit and see what that combination looks like," said defensive backs coach Perry Fewell.

The experiment is one of many the Bears may try over the coming weeks, as the Bears try to plan ahead in case of injury.

The secondary has already been hit by the injury with Jerry Azumah continuing to miss time with a sore hip.

Nathan Vasher had to leave practice temporarily with a bruised hand. The team's leading interceptor from a year ago is something the Bears can't afford to be without.

"They're our most valuable asset," Fewell said of Vasher's hands.

Bump in the Road
A relatively uneventful practice turned serious on the last play, when receiver Mark Bradley and cornerback Jerrell Pippens both ended up on the ground following a Hail Marry drill. Pippens walked away unharmed, while Bradley attempted to get up but went back down with pain his left knee.

"We were working on a Hail Marry and we all - just kind of like basketball - jumped up for the rebound and knocked the ball down," Pippens said. "All I know is everybody's legs and arms and elbows start flying I took one to the stomach and I saw Bradley on the ground screaming."

Although Bradley was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power, the severity of the injury is unclear at this point.

Bradley has had a strong week of practice and has caught twice as many balls as any other receiver in camp according to receivers coach Daryl Drake.

One Way Conversation
Head coach Lovie Smith admitted that he has talked to running back Cedric Benson since his plea to get the first round pick in camp, but Tuesday is the tenth day of the holdout.

Injury Update
Defensive tackle Ian Scott watched Monday's evening practice from the sidelines with a shoulder problem. Despite TE Dustin Lyman (ankle) and S Cameron Worrell (hamstring) participating in the morning practice, both sat out the evening session because of injury.


Bear Report Top Stories