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Bears expect CB Tillman for Megatron showdown

The SportsXchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- When the Chicago Bears return to practice Wednesday, cornerback Charles Tillman might be a spectator.

When the Bears take the field Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit, coach Marc Trestman believes Tillman will be at his usual lonely outpost as the right cornerback locked in single coverage against Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

The Bears are crossing their fingers Tillman is ready for Johnson, who has struggled in recent matchups to disengage from the rangy veteran defensive back.

Tillman went out in the second half Sunday with groin tightness against Pittsburgh rather than the knee soreness which kept him out of practice the previous week. Trestman said Tillman could have returned to the game if needed and expects him to be available for practice this week in preparation for the Lions game.

"We're going to be very cautious with him this week," Trestman said. "He'll probably be out on Wednesday and we'll go through the same progression. But he just tightened up. He was in early this morning (Monday), he worked out and got treatment, so we're optimistic that he'll be ready to go on Sunday."

In the most recent meeting last October, Tillman blanketed Johnson, allowing only three catches for 34 yards and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Even before that, Tillman has had a big hand in keeping Johnson in check in the past and the backup plan, 5-foot-8, 188-pound Tim Jennings, would have wholesale ramifications for defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's blitz-heavy scheme. The Bears blitzed on almost one-third of their defensive plays at Pittsburgh, a credit to the confidence Tucker has in his coverage crew.

The Bears defense has adopted the strategy of using Tillman on whatever side of the field Johnson lines up, so the injury obviously could impact the way they play "Megatron."

Tillman was replaced at Pittsburgh by Zack Bowman. The secondary gave up over 400 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger, but did intercept him three times.
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