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Teammates have faith in new right corner Zack Bowman

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Updated: December 16, 2013 6:38AM

Zack Bowman knows about changing environments.

He was born in South Carolina, and went to high school in icy Alaska, junior college in parched New Mexico and college in pancake-flat Nebraska.

His professional career has echoed change — not in location, but in his role.

He has been a starter and a backup, a special-teams whiz and someone cut by the Minnesota Vikings after only six offseason months.

For the rest of the regular season, though, he’s the Bears starting right cornerback.

Bowman, 28, takes the place of Charles Tillman, who was placed on injured reserve-designated to return with a torn right triceps this week. The earliest he can return to game action is the first week of the playoffs.

“I’ve been here for six years, so I know the system, I know the defense,” said Bowman, who was drafted by the Bears in 2008 and returned to the team after an offseason stint with the Vikings in 2012. “It won’t be that much of a difference — just more plays.”

Bowman gives the defense a luxury it hasn’t had when going to the bench during this injury-ravaged season: experience.

He has made 17 career starts, including one this season against the New York Giants in which he intercepted the first pass thrown his way.

The six other Bears to replace an injured starter had a combined five career starts at that position. (Former starting defensive end Corey Wootton had never started at tackle when he was shifted there.)

“When you bring in a guy that’s a veteran, that has experience, there shouldn’t be fall off,” linebacker James Anderson said. “Things should run smoothly. He’s played in this defense. He’s starred in this defense.”

Bowman started 12 games in 2009 before the Bears signed Tim Jennings.

“We’re very confident in Zack,” Jennings said. “We don’t have to have that stress of having a new guy come in and try to learn the defense and fit in right away.”

Bowman admits that he has “big shoes to fill” in replacing Tillman, who taught him to “just play football and have fun.”

Sunday’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, might make that easy to do.

They average 6.7 passing yards per attempt, 23rd in the league, despite throwing the ball more times per game than all but six teams.

Still, Bowman said the Bears have “got our hands full.”

He should know. He’s been there before, certainly more than most backups.

“He’s had success; his teammates trust him,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We expect him to play at his best — and not have to carry the weight of right corner on his shoulder.”


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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