Tillman 50-50 for Week 1

Cornerback says 'flip of the coin' for whether he'll play

September 7, 2009, 3:57 PM

By: Jeff Dickerson

Roughly five minutes into Charles Tillman's predictably vague health update, a reporter wondered aloud if the cornerback was officially announcing his return Sunday night in Green Bay.

Tillman

Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Charles Tillman says he's 50-50 to start Week 1.

"Did you hear me say that?" Tillman barked. "No, I did not say that. I didn't say that."

So what are the odds?

"I don't know, a flip of the coin," Tillman said.

50-50?

"Yeah, that's what a coin flip is right," Tillman responded.

OK. That was a good line. The rest … typical NFL speak.

"I was able to do everything [at practice Monday], they didn't hold me out of anything," Tillman said. "I'm very confident [I can play]. I got to believe in me, right? I'm extremely confident in my ability, I bust my butt to try and get back to this point right now.

"Even if I wasn't a leader on the team it's still important for me to be out there. I don't know of anyone who likes to watch from the sidelines, other than fans. I'm a player. I want to be on the field."

Everybody wants Tillman back on the field. When healthy, he's an elite cornerback, but he's undergone shoulder and back surgeries this offseason. Tillman says his shoulder is fine, but isn't it fair to wonder how he'll hold up against the talented duo of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings?

"They get a lot of [yards after the catch]," Tillman said. "They do a great job of catching the ball and going north and south. They really don't dance around. … We definitely have our hands full."

Regardless if the veteran suits up, the Bears are expected to go with an inexperienced secondary against Aaron Rodgers. Zack Bowman and Al Afalava could both make their first NFL starts -- although Bowman did see action in one game last season.

Lovie Smith must also decide on free safety between Danieal Manning and Kevin Payne. Last week it seemed Smith was leaning toward Manning, but indications Monday pointed toward Payne starting Week 1, with Manning playing nickel and kickoff return. Maybe Smith is still concerned about Manning's hamstring and wants to be sure he doesn't lose the versatile defensive back to further injury. Manning may still be viewed as the long-term answer at free safety, but in the short term, Payne looks on track to get the nod versus the Packers.

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