- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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That is not the dilemma at cornerback, where Charles Tillman's regular season-ending torn triceps muscle forced the team to move Zack Bowman into the starting lineup Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Bowman, 28, has started 17 games for the Bears since 2008, including the team’s Week 6 victory over the New York Giants, finishing with four tackles and one interception in place of Tillman who was resting a sore knee.
“(We are) very confident in Zack,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said Wednesday. “He’s a veteran player. He’s played in some games and done a good job when he’s gone in. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Zack to get the job done. Obviously when you lose a good player, a great player like Charles, you never want to see that. But unfortunately, injuries are a part of this game that we play and we coach, so it’s next man up.
“He came out here and worked well today. We expect him to go out there and do his job to the best of his ability — no more, no less.”
A strong effort from the 6-foot-1, 196 pound Bowman over the final seven games might influence the direction the Bears head in the offseason in regards to cornerback. If the Bears are unable or unwilling to re-sign Tillman and/or Tim Jennings, Bowman could be an attractive option to fill one of the secondary voids in 2014. All three veteran defenders are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after the year.
Bowman started a career-high 12 games for the Bears in 2009 and recorded 75 tackles and a team-high six interceptions. Since falling behind Jennings on the cornerback depth chart in 2010, Bowman has been a valuable contributor on special teams with 21 combined tackles in 2011-12.
“Peanut is down so it’s time for the next man up, and that is me,” Bowman said. “I’ve got big shoes to fill. My job is to go out there and do as I’m told. Do whatever they ask me to do on defense. I just need to do my job. That’s all I can do for my defense.”