Bears Secondary Returning To Strength

Charles Tillman may have spouted off about Randy Moss being less than 100 percent, but the Bears cornerback himself is also coming back from injury. Still, the return of him and other is expected to boost Chicago's defense against the Vikings.

Charles "Peanut" Tillman, the team's best cover corner, is slated to return to the starting lineup Sunday for the first time since Week 2, when he suffered a chip fracture of the tibial plateau just under his right knee. Tillman played about 20 snaps last week against Dallas and has been proclaimed 100 percent by coach Lovie Smith.

"Charles is a guy that keeps his body in great shape, and he continued to do that as he was coming back from the injury," Smith said. "He's a unique guy; he's a special corner. I think it's just a normal progression now to let him take off and go full speed, start the game and go from there."

Jerry Azumah will start at the other corner spot, and R.W. McQuarters will be demoted to the nickel corner spot despite two interceptions last week, one of which he returned for the Bears' only touchdown. But McQuarters will be on the field for the majority of the snaps, considering how often the Vikings employ three or more wide receivers. Rookie Nathan Vasher, who leads the team with four interceptions and has started five games, will be the No. 4 cornerback.


  • LB Brian Urlacher (questionable, calf) practiced at full speed on Wednesday and is expected to start Sunday barring any setbacks. Urlacher was injured on Nov. 14, and the prognosis was a rehab of 4-6 weeks.

  • DT Tommie Harris (questionable, ankle) didn't practice Wednesday but did some individual work on the side.

  • Nine opening-day starters have combined to miss 42 man-games to injury, including three on injured reserve: FS Mike Brown (Week 3), QB Rex Grossman (Week 4) and ORG Ruben Brown (Week 12).

    If DT Tommie Harris (knee, ankle) and ORT John Tait (knee) both miss Sunday's game, as expected, the Bears would be down to just five players who have started every game this season. If Tait is unable to play, it will snap his streak of 61 straight starts.

  • WR David Terrell has already established a career best with 482 receiving yards on just 28 receptions. His 17.2-yard average in ninth in the NFL.

  • The Bears have had two or more takeaways in five of the last six games.

  • The Bears have five defensive TDs, tied with the Ravens for best in the league, and each of the returns has been for 45 yards or longer, with three of 70 yards or more. The Bears had one defensive touchdown last season. The Bears' four interception returns for TDs ties the all-time franchise record.

  • The Bears lead the NFL in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 27.3 percent of their opportunities. Four of their last five opponents have converted less than 20 percent of their third-down opportunities.

    BY THE NUMBERS: The 4-7 Bears have 23 takeaways, tied for fifth best in the NFL with the 10-1 Patriots and the 8-3 Jets. The Bears had only 20 takeaways all of last season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's like Huck Finn out there, isn't he? He brings a lot of fun to the practice field. I started to observe (that) several weeks ago, when I watched him (run the scout team) and he was just bouncing around and having all kinds of good, enthusiastic fun. That's what he's brought to this offense the last couple of days." — Bears offensive coordinator Terry Shea on QB Chad Hutchinson

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