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Tillman injured in loss to Lions
November 12th, 2013

Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman will miss at least the rest of the regular season after tearing his right triceps during Sunday’s 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. 

Tillman was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return, which makes him eligible to practice in six weeks and return to game action in eight weeks. That timetable means he will miss the Bears’ final seven regular season games but could come back for the playoffs. 

Tillman was injured during the second half while defending Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. 

“I don’t know exactly what play,” Tillman told reporters Monday. “I just remember shoving Calvin on one play and I felt something kind of strain, perhaps tear. I just felt a sharp pain.” 

The injury was initially diagnosed as a tear and is not expected to require surgery, but Tillman said it is still being evaluated and he intends to seek a second opinion. 

Tillman has been extremely durable, missing only seven games over the last nine seasons due to injuries. He’s not happy about the prospect of matching that total over the next two months.

“I’m definitely sad,” Tillman said. “This team has a lot of potential, and the fact that I’m no longer a part of that to help this team further succeed, that’s the part that hurts. My role right now is to be the biggest cheerleader and supporter I can on the sideline. 

“We don’t have [cheerleaders], but you’re looking at one right now. I’m not putting the skirt on, but I can definitely scream, shout and show my support for my teammates. I know if they were in my situation, they would probably do the same.” 

Tillman also intends to help defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and assistant Chris Harris during games, even though the idea of not being able to play is repulsive to the 32-year-old.

“If they need something or I see something, they have an extra set of eyes and some experience on the sidelines with them,” Tillman said. “I’m not fond of coaching, but I guess I’m being thrown into it. I’m willing to help out and do my part.” 

Since being selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Lafayette, Tillman has established franchise records for most defensive touchdowns (9), interception return TDs (8) and interception return yards (675). 

His 36 interceptions are third most in Bears history behind Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37) and Tillman’s 42 forced fumbles are the most by any NFL player since he entered the league.

Tillman is the Bears’ fifth defensive starter to suffer a major injury this year. Tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins are out for the season with torn ACLs, middle linebacker D.J. Williams is on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, and weakside linebacker Lance Briggs will miss about six weeks with a fractured shoulder. 

“It’s just one of those seasons, man,” Tillman said. “It’s the National Football League. I think it happens to every team at least once a year. It just so happened the injury bug has got a hold of our team for some reason.” 

Tillman will be replaced by Zack Bowman, a sixth-year pro who has appeared in 66 games with 17 starts in six seasons with the Bears. In his only year as a regular starter in 2009, Bowman led the team with six interceptions. 

“There’s no way to replicate what Charles can do,” said Bears coach Marc Trestman. “[Bowman] is not going to tell you he’s Charles Tillman and we’re not going to tell you that either. But [Bowman] is a good football player and he’ll step in and I’m sure be at his best.”