Tillman called Johnson the LeBron James of receivers last year, and on Wednesday, compared him to a custom player you can create on the "Madden NFL" video game. Asked what makes Johnson so difficult to handle, Tillman didn’t mince words.
“Because he’s so damned big,” Tillman said. “I think I said it last year, he’s like the LeBron James of wide receivers. He’s like that 'Madden' character that you can create in the game. He’s tall, he’s fast. He can catch. He’s got quickness. He’s got the speed, the agility, the leaping ability, the extra boost. He’s 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.”
Yet somehow, in the last six meetings between these teams, Tillman managed to keep Johnson’s numbers to a minimum. Since 2010, Johnson has produced only one 100-yard outing against the Bears (Oct. 10, 2011), while scoring just two touchdowns. Johnson averages 4.5 receptions per game against the Bears since 2010 for an average of 71.3 yards.
Tillman, meanwhile, has racked up 37 tackles, broken up eight passes and intercepted two passes in addition to forcing two more fumbles in that span as the primary defender guarding Johnson.
“He’s a big, strong, physical corner,” Johnson said of Tillman. “He’s smart. He’s seen a lot of football, so he understands some of the concepts probably that we do on offense. He’s another great out there, one of the top corners in the league.”
Tillman declined to take credit for essentially shutting down Johnson over the last six meetings between the teams.
“I have a great defensive line,” Tillman said. “A lot of the plays that I’m able to make on Calvin have been because of my defensive line. If you take them out of the mix, I can’t do anything. It’s a team effort; rush and cover. I cover, they rush. They’ve definitely helped me out a lot. They make my job easier.”
Will Tillman be able to perform that job Sunday at Detroit? He left the game in the second half of Chicago’s victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to rest a sore groin, and in the week of practice leading up to that game, he missed time to treat a knee issue.
The team held out Tillman for Wednesday’s practice, and Bears coach Marc Trestman said “he’ll be day to day.”
Tillman, meanwhile, was asked if there was any way he’d miss Sunday’s game at Ford Field.
“No,” Tillman said. “I’ll be there.”