Bears' Tillman wins top defensive honor
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman's stellar play against Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson helped to earn him NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for October.
John Starks | Staff Photographer
Cornerback Charles Tillman was named NFC defensive player of the month for October after having 2 pick-6s (25 yards at Dallas, 36 yards at Jacksonville) and holding Detroit Lions Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a season-low 34 yards on 3 receptions.
"He gets better every single year," linebacker Brian Urlacher said of he 10-year veteran Tillman. "He's perfect for our defense. He's a big corner for Cover 2, he's a good man-to-man corner, and he can tackle. Our corners have to tackle, and he can do that."
The Bears held opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 61.9 passer rating in October (105 completions on 171 attempts for 1,115 yards, 3 touchdowns and 10 interceptions).
Tillman is the second consecutive Bear to win the award after cornerback Tim Jennings was honored in September.
"We've said it for quite a while here, he is a special player," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said of Tillman. "Everybody is starting to see it right now. Our two corners are special to me; catching the ball, tackling, (they're) competitive guys."
Urlacher said that since Marinelli's arrival in 2010, Tillman has become even more proficient stripping the ball from receivers, his signature move.
"He challenges me," said Tillman, who has forced 10 fumbles since the start of 2010 and recovered 5. "Not just me, though, us. He pushes us to our limit."
Including Julius Peppers' award in November 2011 (his second), Bears players have won three of the last four monthly awards.
It's no joke:
Safety Chris Conte was fined $21,000 on Thursday for his hit on Carolina wide receiver Brandon LaFell on Sunday that drew a personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
The hit did not appear intentional, and Conte was stunned by the severity of the fine. He tweeted: "21K?! They are joking right … thought someone was playing a joke on me"
The day after the game, coach Lovie Smith was asked if penalties and fines can change the way players play.
"No," he said. "We're going to keep coaching it the same way, keep playing it (the same way). Every once in awhile that'll happen, but the intent wasn't to hurt anyone; the intent was to get the ball out. Chris Conte isn't that type of player, so I don't think it will be an issue.
"The officials are trying to protect guys when they're in a defenseless position and all that good stuff. I haven't really analyzed it an awful lot. You just live with what's been called at the time.
"They want to keep the game safe. We teach it a certain way. We don't ever teach trying to hurt guys, and we'll continue to do that and hopefully be a little bit luckier next time."
As usual, linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) and defensive end Julius Peppers (foot) did not practice Thursday. Both were listed as "coach's decision" and are expected to play Sunday.
Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (groin) also did not practice, and linebacker Lance Briggs (toe) was limited but expected to play. Tight end Matt Spaeth (ankle) was back to full participation.
The Tennessee Titans had six starters who did not practice or were limited, and they continue to struggle with injuries along their offensive line.
Right guard Leroy Harris (knee) and right tackle David Stewart (knee) did not practice, and left tackle Michael Roos (abdomen) and center Fernando Velasco (concussion) were limited.
Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) did not practice, and free safety Michael Griffin (hip) was limited.
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