We have a full edition of Four Down Territory scheduled for Wednesday, but we'll dip into the mailbag now with a question that has popped in from several e-mailers this morning.
Q: Is Jerry Angelo going to make an effort to sign a veteran cornerback now that Charles Tillman is out for at least all of training camp? It can't hurt to add some depth and let someone learn the system during training camp.
Charles, Apopka, Fla.
A: It's certainly not a bad idea but I think you've got to consider a couple of issues on this matter. First, Tillman didn't have surgery yesterday. The procedure was two weeks ago so if the Bears were going to make a move, it's fair to consider that there is at least a chance they would have already done so. Second, the club brought in some veterans for a look in the spring. First, Ken Lucas paid a visit before ultimately returning to his first home in the NFL in Seattle. Then, Rod Hood came in during OTA's before promptly signing with Cleveland. By failing to sign either one of those players, or engage them in contract negotiations, I would venture to guess the decision was made that the Bears would be better off going with the young players they have. Now, would that decision be different right now? Let's just say no one was expecting Tillman to have back surgery after he had shoulder surgery and then missed time with a hyperextended knee.
The Bears could still opt to go the young route and roll with what they have. Tillman missed a substantial amount of time during training camp last summer--he was probably gone at least half the time while his daughter was hospitalized--and he returned to play well through an injury-challenged season. In his absence, Corey Graham received substantial playing time with the first team and used that as a spring board to take Nathan Vasher's place when he was injured. Tillman's absence in camp this summer will give another young player, likely Zack Bowman, the same repetitions with the first team. If there is a silver lining in the whole deal, it's that Bowman (or possibly Graham) will get extended work with the starters against the first team offense.
The final point to consider is what exactly is available on the market right now? As valuable as quality cornerbacks are--no defensive coordinator can have enough of them--there aren't any prizes on the street right now. The good thing is if the Bears do choose to go shopping there are plenty of available names all with experience. Travis Fisher, Chris McAlister, Mike McKenzie, Ricky Manning Jr. and Patrick Surtain are all available. Heck, the Bears could have R.W. McQuarters back. With experience, though, comes high mileage.