Bears cornerback Charles Tillman made it clear with a tweet Thursday that he plans to play Sunday night against the Houston Texans with his wife expected to give birth to their fourth child on Monday.
But Houston was preparing for Tillman regardless of what he has going on away from the field. The Texans' offense is heading into the game with ball security as their No. 1 goal.
Texans star running back Arian Foster said you have to be "very careful with the football" with Tillman lurking. Tillman, a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, is coming off an amazing performance against the Tennessee Titans in which forced a career-high four fumbles.
Since 2003, Tillman has forced 36 fumbles, the most for a defensive back. He has already forced a single-season, career-high with seven forced fumbles this season.
"It's one of the things he does very well," Foster said. "You watch film and he's been doing it for years. He's getting a lot of attention for it this year, but he's been for years.
" If you fumble the football as a running back, you're not going to be carrying it too long. It's something that's branded into you when you first get into the NFL and I mean through college and everything too. You always have to be cognizant of ball security because on this level you've got ball-hawks all around the defensive side of the ball."
As far as Tillman's success at causing turnovers, Houston coach Gary Kubiak said his staff will "make a big point of it" during practice this week.
"One of the great things that this team (the Bears] does is when you make a play on them they don't give up on the play," Kubiak said. "If you throw a slant route or your back gets out and busts the line of scrimmage, there are people working downfield working to poke the ball out and finish plays.
"They are excellent at that so we obviously have to hit our guys on it. We do it all the time, but it's going to be a big point of emphasis this week in practice. When it's all said and done, us protecting the ball will be huge in the game."
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year with Tillman.
Will Sunday's game decide who is having a better season?
"[Tillman is] having a good football year," said Watt, who has 10.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hits so far this season. "Obviously, he has a specialty in knocking the balls out. Everybody can decide for themselves. I think it's a big game for us, for our team. Obviously national television is always a chance to show the country, the world what we're about and you look forward to that."
Watt's forte is batting down passes. He's tipped 10 passes this season, including four that turned into interception returns for teammates.
"A lot of people talk about Tillman's knockouts," Watt said. "I think our batted balls turned into interceptions are just as big of a point of emphasis."