Bears' Tillman out for season, but not giving up
For the second time in 10 months, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a ruptured triceps.
It's the same injury that sidelined him for the final eight games last season, although he has a well-deserved reputation as a tough and durable player.
Before last season's injury, Tillman had missed just six games in eight years. But since the 33-year-old is on a one-year deal with the Bears, it's possible that the former second-round pick could be finished.
He doesn't sound like the retiring type.
"I appreciate the kind words of encouragement and support from all the Bears fans who have reached out to me," said Tillman, who was voted to the Pro Bowl after the 2011 and '12 seasons. "I know this feeling way too well, but this isn't the end of the road for me.
"As I rehab my injury, my role will transition to helping coach and support my teammates. I will be at Halas Hall and do everything I can to help our team reach its goals."
Tillman is the Bears' all-time leader with 9 defensive touchdowns, 675 interception-return yards and 8 interception-return touchdowns. He is third in franchise history with 36 interceptions.
Since entering the league in 2003, Tillman is second among all players with 42 forced fumbles.
"He's one of the reasons why I came here," said defensive end Jared Allen, who left the Minnesota Vikings to join the Bears in the off-season as a free agent. "He's a great guy; he's a great teammate; he's very dependable and accountable."
The right stuff:
The Bears found out Sunday night they could depend on rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.
After Charles Tillman suffered a ruptured triceps, Fuller picked off 2 passes in the fourth quarter to help rally his team to victory.
The first-round pick out of Virginia Tech will have a great many more opportunities with Tillman's season over. Fuller had the right mindset when he was promoted.
"The mentality of the game is you're one play away," said the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder. "If somebody goes down, you have to step it up and do the same things that he does, like make plays.
"There's always adversity in this game. Guys had to step up, and I felt we did that."
Fuller already had been playing extensively on defense, entering games in nickel situations as one of the outside cornerbacks, while starter Tim Jennings moved into the slot as the nickel corner.
Fuller's 2 interceptions Sunday were a bonus, but he did what teammates expected.
"It wasn't a surprise to us," Jennings said. "He just came in and made some huge plays."
Next man up:
Rookie safety Brock Vereen was forced into the lineup as the nickel corner after Charles Tillman and backup Sherrick McManis (quad) were injured.
Vereen hasn't taken any practice reps at cornerback since he was drafted by the Bears in the fourth-round, but he played some cornerback at Minnesota.
"(Defensive backs) coach (Jon) Hoke and the vets who were playing prepped me before I went in for every single series," Vereen said. "It's a huge credit to them."
The Bears are expected to make a move this week to strengthen the cornerback position. That could include bringing back veteran Kelvin Hayden, who has been cut, re-signed and cut again in less than three weeks. Isaiah Frey also could be signed from the practice squad.
Since joining the Bears in 2012, Brandon Marshall's 27 touchdown receptions are tied with the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham for most in the NFL.
Marshall's 231 receptions during that time are second in the league, and his 2,922 receiving yards are fourth.
Sunday night was the second 3-touchdown game of Marshall's career.
The first also was as a Bear, on Nov. 4, 2012, against the Tennessee Titans. Marshall joins Mike Ditka, Harlon Hill and Ken Kavanaugh as the only players in Bears history with multiple 3-receiving touchdown games.
Veteran fullback Tony Fiammetta was re-signed to the 53-man roster and rookie quarterback David Fales was signed to the practice squad. Both players were trimmed Friday from the 53-man roster.