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Five Bears named to Pro Bowl

Cornerback Charles Tillman has scored three defensive touchdowns forced 10 fumbles this season. | Getty Images

Cornerback Charles Tillman has scored three defensive touchdowns and forced 10 fumbles this season. | Getty Images

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Updated: January 28, 2013 4:04PM

For the second consecutive season, the Pro Bowl will be special for Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.

Last January, he made his Pro Bowl debut. On Jan. 27,
if the Bears don’t go on a
Super Bowl run, he’ll start for the NFC alongside teammate Tim Jennings in Honolulu.

‘‘To have my partner in crime — and we’re both starting — is really a great thing for the organization,’’ Tillman said after
the Pro Bowl rosters were announced Wednesday. ‘‘I’m happy for him, considering how last year ended.

‘‘Were they going to keep him? Were they going to bench him? Now he comes back and makes the freaking Pro Bowl.’’

Tillman and Jennings
became the first teammates to be named Pro Bowl starters at cornerback since Frank Minnefield and Hanford Dixon of the Cleveland Browns after the 1988 season.

Three other Bears — wide receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end
Julius Peppers — joined Tillman and Jennings on the NFC roster. Jennings and Melton are first-time picks, but Tillman (second), Marshall (fourth) and Peppers (eighth) have been there before.

The most surprising
selection is Jennings, especially considering the season he had in 2011. Jennings dropped several potential interceptions and even was benched late in the season. But he committed himself to improving his hands and leads the NFL with eight
interceptions this season.

‘‘This is a good moment,’’ said Jennings, who turned 29 on Monday. ‘‘The season hasn’t gone as well as I
expected or wanted it to, but it’s not over yet.

‘‘For the team, we’ve still got goals ahead of us. But this puts me in a good place right now as an individual goal for all the hard work I’ve put into it.’’

‘‘He went from the shadows into one of our playmakers,’’ Tillman said.

Melton also has emerged as a go-to player on the Bears’ fifth-ranked defense. After breaking out with
seven sacks last season, he has six this season.

Melton credited defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who has worked with a number of Pro Bowl defensive linemen, for helping him.

‘‘He’s a great guy, a great coach,’’ Melton said. ‘‘We spent a lot of hours together, working extremely hard, trying to mold me into a better man and definitely a better football player.’’

Peppers is tied for seventh
in the league with 11½ sacks, Marshall is second in the NFL in catches (113) and
receiving yards (1,466) and Tillman has scored three defensive touchdowns and forced 10 fumbles.

† Complete Pro Bowl rosters, Page 48.

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