A fourth-year player out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Tillman looks to finally be fulfilling the promise he showed as a rookie back in 2003. Predominantly known as a physical corner who lacks true lockdown ability, he intercepted two Brady passes on Sunday and kept the likes of Caldwell and Brown quiet. Tillman now has four INTS on the season, which ties him for Ricky Manning Jr. for the team lead.
Always solid in run support, Tillman was credited with seven tackles against the Patriots. He now has 58 total tackles this year, good enough for third on the club behind All-Pro linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. For his determined effort at Gillette Stadium, Tillman is the Bear Report Stud of the Week.
Many Bears fans were looking for Manning, a free agent signee from Carolina, to replace Tillman as the starter at corner opposite Nathan Vasher at the start of training camp. Tillman was torched by Carolina's Steve Smith in last season's playoff loss at Soldier Field and made to be a scapegoat by Monday morning quarterbacks throughout the Windy City. Smith could not be stopped that day and racked up 12 receptions for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Most of his criticism has been unfair because the coaching staff did a very poor job game-planning to stop Smith, a dynamic wideout capable of scoring every time he touches the football. But since that dreadful day, Tillman has been a model of consistency for the Bears on D and could get some consideration for his first Pro Bowl selection when it's all said and done. Vasher may have the reputation, but Tillman has been the Chicago's best cover corner all season long.
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