The Bears have been known for up and down play at the cornerback position over the past few seasons, but hopes are high that this year will be different.
The Bears will return a healthy Charles Tillman and Zachary Bowman, as well as introduce newly-acquired corners Tim Jennings and Joshua Moore. While this group may not seem like it's going to be much better than it was last season, it's improved, and with an improved pass rush up front, good things can happen for the Bears' cornerbacks.
Having a proven veteran like Charles Tillman in the lineup helps the Bears out in the secondary at all times. As we have seen in the past, Tillman is a smart player who is willing to help offer advice to some of the younger guys and is a leader on the field. There is a downside to every player, however, and Tillman does have a few problems that need to be considered.
Health has been a big issue with Tillman in the past. He has missed time with a variety of injuries and this has come to hurt the team (when he isn’t in the lineup). He is also starting to show signs of wear and tear and isn’t as fast as he used to be. However, with a little less pressure on him (created by the pass rush the Bears should get), he could return to his old self and be a big asset in the secondary.
The Bears should see something of a competition this training camp between Zachary Bowman and Tim Jennings at the position opposite Tillman. Jennings was a starter (part time) in Indianapolis and brings a lot to the table in terms of talent.
It would be hard for the Bears to ignore this and not give him a shot at the starting job, so look for them to give Jennings at least an outside shot at earning a starting spot at the corner position opposite Tillman during training camp.
The Bears added cornerback Joshua Moore during the draft in hopes that he could provide some additional depth for them at the cornerback position. While he may not get a chance to start this season, he does provide the Bears with some added depth and could step in if needed when an injury happens.
Some of the other players the Bears have at the cornerback position include veteran Corey Graham, second-year players D.J. Moore and Woodny Turenne, and rookie free agent Cornelius Brown.
Graham has played the position often during his time with the Bears and is the most experienced of this small group (of three).
It is safe to say Graham should be able to stick with the team when the final roster is set, and there is also a decent chance Turenne could see some time on the active roster as well.
The Bears are going to have to start rebuilding their cornerback group after this season in order to keep the guys fresh and find some additional talent that will help them in the future. Health has always been a big key with this group, so finding good, solid, and healthy players will be a big key come next offseason.
For now, this group has been given a bit of a reprieve thanks to the acquisition of Peppers. With a solid pass rush, there will be a lot less pressure on the secondary, and they won’t have to cover receivers as long as they have in the past. This can only be a good thing.
They also need this group to stay healthy this season (Bowman and Tillman) in order to be effective. If they fail to have either one of these guys for any stretch of time during the season, it could be difficult for the defense to keep opponents from passing all over them.
Hopefully things fall in line and the Bears will be able to keep opposing passing attacks at bay. We shall soon find out.