The Chicago Bears are hoping their defense is revamped this season with the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers and the return of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher from a wrist injury that cost him nearly all of 2009.
They traded for former Bear Chris Harris to plug in at safety and drafted Major Wright in the third round with the expectation that he will nail down a starting job at some point.
Part of the new defensive plan includes switching around some veterans, though, as the Bears flip-flopped cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman over the weekend during the team’s three-day minicamp. That meant moving Tillman, who has made 91 of his 94 career starts on the left side, to right corner. Bowman assumed his former spot at left corner.
The coaching staff said it was just exploring different looks, but Tillman said the move is permanent as best as he can tell, and it remained that way throughout the minicamp.
“Coach (Lovie) Smith just thinks it will be a better matchup for Zack and myself,” Tillman said. “It gives our team the best chance of winning. As of now, I would probably say (it is permanent). But stuff is subject to change, and people go to different positions all of the time. It could change during the season.”
Typically, teams that play a lot of zone defense – the Bears’ base scheme is the Tampa Two – put their best cornerback on the left side. Right-handed cornerbacks throw the ball that way more often. Bowman led the team with six interceptions last season and the thinking could be that he will be able to make more plays aligned on the left side.
The biggest thing for Tillman is that he is fully healed after suffering four broken ribs and a punctured lung in a vicious hit from teammate Craig Steltz as they converged on Minnesota Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe during the Week 16 meeting at Soldier Field. Tillman, who has undergone two shoulder surgeries and two back surgeries in recent seasons, was not completely healed until late March.
“I am back and ready to play,” he said.
Maybe on the right side.
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