Bears CB Charles Tillman suffers burning sensation
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 24, 2012 11:40PM
Giants rookie running back David Wilson stiff-arms Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. | Elsa~Getty Images
Updated: September 26, 2012 6:11AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If Charles Tillman was fighting for a roster spot instead of coming off a Pro Bowl season, he wouldn’t have slept well Friday night.
Tillman, a dependable 10-year veteran, is among the least of the Bears’ worries after the first-team defense’s uneven performance in a 20-17 victory over the New York Giants on Friday night at MetLife Stadium.
But the sight of the Bears’ best cornerback getting burned by unheralded Giants wide receiver Ramses Barden had to be a little disconcerting, whether it’s the third preseason game or the first.
Barden’s three receptions for 46 yards from Eli Manning in the first half, including an 11-yard touchdown, were just part of a tough night for Tillman. He also had two pass-interference penalties — one he disputed, one he didn’t — and a missed tackle that led to a long run by rookie running back David Wilson.
‘‘It’s not about what they did. It’s really all about me,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘It’s not about [Barden]. It’s not about Eli. It was me. I didn’t play good today. I missed the tackle. I gave up a touchdown. Totally my fault, nobody else’s.
“It’s just [a matter of] going back to the fundamentals so we can be ready for Indy [the regular-season opener against the Colts].’’
Tillman doesn’t figure to be a problem for the Bears this season. But if the third preseason game is any kind of indicator, the Bears have some work to do on defense.
They had five stops for negative yardage in the first quarter — by cornerback Tim Jennings, safety Craig Steltz, linebackers Nick Roach/Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers, who dropped wide receiver Domenik Hixon for a 13-yard loss on an end-around. But Manning picked them apart in the second quarter to finish his lone half going 17-for-21 for 148 yards with a 111.9 passer rating.
‘‘It’s the NFL, man. We’ve got to take it as a positive. We won,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘It’s not up to our standards. We gave up some plays. Third-down [conversions]. A lot of penalties. So that was the negative. But overall as a team we got the win, so we’ll go back and look at the film and know that we can clean up.’’
Barden, who has 15 receptions for 174 yards and no touchdowns in three NFL seasons, wasn’t the only unlikely antagonist.
Rookie running back David Wilson, the Giants’ first-round draft pick from Virginia Tech, gained 49 yards on five carries in the first half, including rushes of 20 and 15 yards. He also had a 29-yard reception.
‘‘We’re not going to take anything away from [Barden],’’ Jennings said. ‘‘He’s out there for a reason. He’s making plays for a reason. Those guys get paid, too.
“That’s one thing we need to clean up and get better at. Not just ‘Peanut,’ but as a secondary. We’ve just got to tighten up on each area as a defense.’’
The defense had its moments. Aided perhaps by the momentum of Jay Cutler’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, the unit had the Giants out of sorts on their next offensive series.
The Bears forced Manning to take a delay-of-game penalty on first down, Peppers smothered Hixon for the 13-yard loss on second down and the Giants called time out on second-and-28 from their 2-yard line.
But this was one night when the Bears had to wait for film review to find the good.
‘‘Right now I can’t say [what was good],’’ Jennings said. ‘‘We’ve got to go back and look at the film to see some of the things we can improve on. It’s never positive when you give up points. I can’t pinpoint it right now.’’