Vasher's Release Has a Ripple Effect

The Chicago Bears finally put Nathan Vasher out of his misery, so the future of the cornerback position can now more easily be determined. How does this effect the depth chart? Who will play nickel?

Charles Tillman

Despite always being banged up because of his incredibly aggressive style of play, Tillman has only missed six games since the start of the 2005 season. In 2009, the former Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun recorded 78 tackles, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, seven passes defensed and one defensive touchdown. That being said, those seven PDs were his lowest total since 2004, when he only played eight games, and some experts continue to wonder whether he would be better off playing free safety since the Bears have such a hole there.

Status Update: Coach Lovie Smith has always shot down any chatter about Tillman switching positions, meaning he is still entrenched as the starting left cornerback.

Zack Bowman

Following a terrific offseason and a training camp in which he totally outplayed the recently-released Nathan Vasher, Bowman officially took over as the starter opposite Tillman in Week 2. In 2009, the former Nebraska Cornhusker recorded 66 tackles, a team-leading six interceptions, one forced fumble and 10 passes defensed. Similarly built to Tillman at 6-1 and 193 pounds, Bowman is a perfect fit for the Cover 2 and finally seems to be past the non-stop injuries that plagued him throughout his college career and again as a rookie in Chicago.

Status Update: Ready to supplant Tillman as the best player in town at his position, if he hasn't done so already, Bowman will be the starting right cornerback again.

Corey Graham

Stepping in to start at right corner in 2008 with Vasher battling a nagging hand/thumb injury, and performing rather well according to most indicators, Graham landed in the doghouse last year once the coaching staff started experimenting with him at free safety and nickel back. In 2009, the former New Hampshire Wildcat recorded 35 tackles and one pass defensed, continuing to be one of special teams coordinator Dave Toub's top contributors. He certainly has the size and strength to be a quality Cover-2 corner, and with Danieal Manning rumored to be heading to strong safety, Graham should be on the short list of candidates to be the nickel back.

CB Corey Graham
AP Images: Jim Prisching

Status Update: 2010 is the final year of Graham's contract, so he needs to stop maintaining that he's only a cornerback and just get on the field defensively any way he can.

D.J. Moore

Considered a steal in Round 4 of this past April's NFL Draft, Moore came to Chicago with a reputation for making big plays but did little more than show off his big mouth. As a rookie in 2009, the former Vanderbilt Commodore failed to crack the stat sheet, as he didn't do anything to get noticed in training camp and was a game-day inactive almost all year long. Generously listed at 5-10 and 182 pounds, the word on Moore coming out of college was that he played bigger than his size, but the second-year pro has a long way to go before seeing the field consistently.

Status Update: The only reason Moore made the 53-man roster a year ago was because he was a draft pick, and there is little reason to assume he's any better now than the fourth or fifth corner on this team.

Tim Jennings

Signed by the Bears one day before Vasher was handed his walking papers, Jennings failed to live up to his billing as a second-round pick in Indianapolis and wasn't even tendered a contract as a restricted free agent. In 2009, the former Georgia Bulldog recorded 57 tackles, two interceptions and 10 seven passes defensed. Currently the shortest corner on the roster at 5-8 and no threat to challenge for a starting job any time soon, Jennings did play a fair amount of nickel back for the Colts and might be a solid fit there for the Bears since he's considered a sound tackler.

Status Update: Jennings is not the prototypical cornerback for this system, and Colts fans certainly won't miss him, but the talent is there and perhaps he simply needed a fresh start somewhere else.

Woodny Turenne

Coming to the Bears as an undrafted rookie free agent last year, Turenne put together an impressive training camp, outplayed Moore on a daily basis and probably should have made the team prior to the opener. In 2009, the former Louisville Cardinal was released and re-signed to the Chicago practice squad on several occasions, but he did enough to get elevated to the 53-man roster before the finale at Detroit. Featuring a wiry build at 6-1 and 182 pounds, Turenne is still raw but could develop into a player if he proves to be tough enough in run support.

Status Update: Assuming both Tillman and Graham stick at corner, giving Turenne some time at free safety might be a smart idea since he showed good ball skills in training camp.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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