Charles Tillman, like his Class of 2003 alum Lance Briggs, has looked slow and old thus far in the preseason. And like I said in my preview of the linebacker position, I’m not ready to declare with any kind of certainty that Tillman is done and can’t play anymore. But his health and leadership as well as his ability to force turnovers and defend bigger, physical receivers is sorely needed by the Bears defense this season.
At first blush, I was curious as to why the Bears passed on safeties Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in May’s draft, especially after how poorly the Bears’ safeties played in 2013. But with Tillman back on just a one-year deal, and with his injury history and aging body taken into consideration, the Bears badly needed a young cornerback in the mix, and I’m relatively pleased by what I’ve seen from rookie Kyle Fuller.
Between the Bears’ problems at the linebacker position and the depth they currently have at cornerback with Tillman, Fuller and Tim Jennings, the Bears will be in nickel coverage an awful lot this season. It’s a good thing, too, considering the amount of passing that takes place in the NFL.
My hope is that Fuller doesn’t immediately have to step into a starting role and get thrown into the fire, but if Tillman suffers another injury or just can’t cut the mustard, we’ll be seeing more action from the rookie this season.
Tillman, like most starters, is not likely to play against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason finale, so we’ll get an opportunity to see how the rest of the cornerback depth chart pans out.