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Thursday, July 26, 2012
Veteran Tillman not feeling his age

By Jeff Dickerson

Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman
Charles Tillman is entering his 10th season but feels strong mentally and physically.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Charles Tillman didn't hesitate when asked if he deals with any constant reminders that he is entering his tenth year in the NFL.

"You," Tillman shot back on Thursday.

Tillman is truly a testament to durability. Even though the veteran cornerback has dealt with his share of injuries, Tillman has missed just six games over the past eight seasons. The 31-year old defender, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection last year, has 30 career interceptions and 28 career forced fumbles - the highest total of any NFL defensive back since Tillman's rookie season of 2003.

"I don't feel like it's my tenth year," Tillman said. "My body doesn't feel like it, my mind doesn't feel like it. I feel good mentally, physically and spiritually. It's mainly more what I hear about from you all."

Tillman opens training camp once again entrenched in a starting role while fellow first team cornerback Tim Jennings is expected to be pushed by free agent pickup Kelvin Hayden. While there are a few question areas on defense, the veteran core of Tillman, linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, and defensive end Julius Peppers remain intact. That fact, coupled with the club's offseason moves to improve the offense, has Tillman excited about the prospects of returning to the postseason for the fourth time in his career.

"My expectations are high," Tillman said. "I'm just looking forward to going out there and playing again and working towards winning a Super Bowl.'

"One of the areas on areas we can definitely get better on is third down. Red zone, I think we're pretty good in the red zone, but one of the areas we can definitely get better at is getting off the field on third down. Creating more turnovers. I think we were second or third in scoring (defense), but why not first? Just need to raise the bar a little higher."