Charles Tillman missed another practice Thursday with a strained groin and sore right knee. Tillman’s health, along with ANY defensive pressure will be the difference against the pass-happy Detroit Lions.
Zack Bowman would replace “Peanut” if he were to sit out Sunday’s game, forcing the oft-used cornerback to line up against Calvin Johnson. Bowman has been dealing with a knee issue of his own. If Tillman were to make the start, it would make sense to see Bowman play more snaps to keep both players fresh.
Another way to keep the secondary off of their heels would be an effective pass rush. Henry Melton is gone for the year, Julius Peppers is kind of showing signs of life, and the youth movement is stuck in neutral. Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton have been on and off good. Wootton has been stuck in a timeshare with second year lineman Shea McClellin despite looking like the better player for the past few months. McClellin has been a disappointment. He is below average against the run, which makes him good for one play every three usually-played downs.
Nate Collins steps in for Melton going forward. Collins has been good in spurts, and has a lot to prove to be considered a viable option. With Collins moving up the depth chart, the Bears should add another defensive tackle sooner than later.
Circling back to Peppers for a moment: Does anyone actually believe he looked healthy running towards the end zone versus the Steelers this past Sunday night? Peppers is clearly healthier than in the pre-season, but is still a few steps away from 100 percent.
Charles Tillman has to be healthy to be effective against the best receiver in football. If the Bears have to commit another defender over the top to cover “Megatron,” a good chunk of the secondary would be compromised. The Lions have solid secondary receiving options to check down to. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and Oklahoma alum Ryan Broyles are trusted options by QB Matthew Stafford. Running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell make up the best dual-threat backfield in football, which will cause headaches for Bears linebackers.
Losing a defender to aid an ailing Charles Tillman would expose a defense prone to giving up passing yards.
It will be hard to believe that Tillman would be completely healthy going into Sunday’s game, but how much can he help unless he can run full speed and play his physical self?
Calvin Johnson’s stat line will tell that tale.
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