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updated: 10/24/2012 6:37 PM

Panthers' Rivera impressed with Bears' defense

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  • Bears safety Chris Conte celebrates with linebacker Lance Briggs (55) after intercepting a pass in the second half of Monday's victory over Detroit.

      Bears safety Chris Conte celebrates with linebacker Lance Briggs (55) after intercepting a pass in the second half of Monday's victory over Detroit.
    Associated Press

 
 

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was a member of the Bears' 1985 team, and he says the current Bears compare favorably to the Super Bowl XX champions.

"The way these guys get after people (with) their front four, they can rush as well as anybody in the league, and they can get after the quarterback with just the four guys," Rivera said.

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"You watch the way the linebackers attack. These guys are downhill football players, they are physical, they are playmakers.

"Their DB's are opportunistic. You look at what Charles Tillman does, and the way he is redefining stripping and knocking the football out is really a true testament to that defensive philosophy that has been there for quite some time."

Rivera coordinated the 2006 defense that led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI and allowed just 16 points per game. This year's defense is yielding an average of 13.

"Because of Lance (Briggs) and Brian (Urlacher) and Israel (Idonije) and Charles, I think this group can be better," Rivera said. "Because the front four is probably better, and it really begins with those guys up front. That has been outstanding to watch these guys."

Award winner, again:

For the second time in as many games, cornerback Charles Tillman was named NFC defensive player of the week after holding Calvin Johnson to 3 catches for 34 yards, even though the Detroit Lions' Pro Bowl wide receiver was targeted 11 times.

Tillman had 9 nine tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass break ups. In the Bears' previous game, in Week 5, Tillman returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns against Jacksonville.

Tillman has been a 10-year starter for the Bears but seems to be getting better. He made his first Pro Bowl last season.

"If you don't have athletic ability, you don't have a chance," coach Lovie Smith said. "From there, it's experience, know-how, working hard (and) just constantly improving your craft. All those things are what Charles Tillman is about."

Tillman has 32 career forced fumbles, tied for third most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2003, and the most by a defensive back.

Good to go:

Quarterback Jay Cutler once again offered assurances that his "sore" ribs won't keep him from playing Sunday.

"I've always played with some (rib) pads," Cutler said, "so I'll just continue to wear those. I'm not concerned at all. By Sunday it'll all be cleared up. I'll be fine."

Backup Jason Campbell played five snaps at the end of the first half when Cutler was hurt and when he went into the locker room just before halftime for further evaluation.

Cutler said the offense is in good shape with Campbell under center.

"He's been in this league a year longer than me," Cutler said. "He's been in a lot of different systems; been in a lot of tough situations. He's gotten knocked around. He knows what this league is all about.

"He's a professional. He's had some meetings with me, and he knows his stuff. He's ready any time. Hopefully nothing happens, but if I go down we're in good hands."

Knock, knock:

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice can already joke about the sideline incident three weeks ago when quarterback Jay Cutler walked away from him as he sat down to discuss a botched play.

"Jay and I were talking in the cafeteria," Tice began, "I actually sat down, and he didn't get up."

Injury update:

Because they played Monday night, the Bears didn't practice Wednesday. But wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hand) is expected to miss at least one more game, while cornerback Sherrick McManis (hip) is expected back.

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