Tillman’s injury no more than a damper on exciting week

July 28th, 2009 - 1:30 pm

The month of July has been one filled with anticipation and excitement as Bears fans have eagerly awaited the beginning of a training camp filled with promise. After the Bears made national headlines by acquiring Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, upgraded their offensive line, and improved the defense by adding new, quality coaches, there were extremely high expectations for the Bears this season.

As the countdown to training camp reached three days, Bear Nation was hit with the news that one of the key contributors to the defense, cornerback Charles Tillman, will miss most, if not all of the preseason following surgery to repair a disc in his back.

Despite all the anticipation of seeing Cutler take the field in Bourbonnais in a Bears uniform, a large chunk of Bears fans inched closer to the ledge following the news of Tillman’s injury.

Surely, the loss of Tillman comes as a big surprise and if he were to miss significant time due to this injury, it would weaken a Bears secondary that already has a lot of question marks. Tillman is not only the best and most experienced member of the secondary, but is also a game changer with his uncanny ability to pop the ball out of unsuspecting ball carriers’ hands. God forbid, if Nathan Vasher morphs into Mike Brown and suffers through another season of injuries, the Bears will be faced with the prospect of starting Corey Graham and either Trumaine McBride, Zack Bowman, or rookie D.J. Moore.

Luckily, I don’t see it getting that far. This injury is hardly on the same scale as Brian Urlacher’s in 2004, when the Pro Bowl linebacker missed seven games with a hamstring injury sustained on the first day of training camp. Tillman expects to be ready to go by the season opener in Green Bay. And a veteran that has played as many years as Peanut has doesn’t need a full preseason to prepare for the regular season.

In reality, this could be a blessing in disguise as it forces the younger cornerbacks lower on the depth chart to speed up their learning curve and it will give them more repetitions in practice and in the preseason games.

If that’s not enough to quell your concerns, take it from the man himself. Said Tillman, “I’ll be fine for the season. There’s no need to panic. When I panic, then you can panic. But I’m not panicking, so we’re good. I’m just glad it happened now versus in the season. But I’m all right. I’m always optimistic.”