Beyond Tillman: Anatomy of a 'swarm'

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Beyond Tillman: Anatomy of a 'swarm'

NASHVILLE Members of the Bears defense are approaching a rarified place. Beyond planning for takeaways. Beyond even expecting them.

The Bears are no longer surprised when a football comes loose. Particularly when Charles Tillman is nearby, players admitted they are becoming surprised when the football does not come free.

We do, we do expect it to come out, said defensive end Julius Peppers.

Safety Chris Conte has seen enough to know: You expect it every time and then youre surprised when it doesnt come out, because most of the time, it is.

What has crept into the Bears thinking is a swarm mentality that goes beyond even coaches preaching of running to the ball.

Along with the expectation that the football will be available has come a supercharged effort to get there, to not be the one not around when the turnover is forced.

Call it a constructive fear of being left out.

Youd better run to the ball because 33 is going to get it out, Peppers said. Youre going to get a chance for a tip or interception so you better get there.

For Conte and safety mate Major Wright, Thats how we have to think, Conte said. You dont want to not be there when the ball comes out.

Tillman legend growing

Tillman took another giant step four of them, actually toward being named NFL defensive player of the year for 2012. His four forced fumbles in the 51-20 crushing of the Tennessee Titans had even teammates whove seen him do this for year shaking their heads.

I think we are all seeing history being made, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Ive never seen anybody whos been able to do the things hes able to do, and do it consistently.

Tillmans four forced fumbles, part of a total of six footballs knocked loose from Titans, along with an interception return for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher, gave Tillman seven through eight games.

It is a must. A mindset. A mantra.

I dont think it is difficult, Tillman said. It is always on my mind. I am very conscious of it. I speak it. I believe it. It happens.

What made Tillmans and the Bears performance even more jaw-dropping was that the Titans spent all week with their coaches drilling into their heads that the Bears would be coming after the ball. Perhaps that spooked the Titans. Perhaps not.

The coaches tipped us good on how well they force turnovers, said running back Chris Johnson, who lost two himself.

Whether the Titans took the tips seriously enough is for them to sort out. And they may simply have been the wrong team in the wrong place when the takeaway tsunami was coming in.

Ive never seen anything like it, Urlacher said. Every week it seems like we are talking about one of those two corners Tillman, Tim Jennings doing something like that. Its unbelievable.

Fire fans swarm O'Hare to greet Bastian Schweinsteiger

Fire fans swarm O'Hare to greet Bastian Schweinsteiger

In the age of social media you can track something like Bastian Schweinsteiger's flight to Chicago in almost real-time.

The Chicago Fire publicized Schweinsteiger's Tuesday arrival in Chicago, giving fans details of when his plane was expected to arrive and at what terminal.

First, Schweinsteiger and his former tennis player wife, Ana Ivanovic, both tweeted photos to their millions of followers about their trip.

Once they arrived, the mob scene at O'Hare was on. Schweinsteiger was greeted by hundreds of fans.

Check out the video above for some footage of Schweinsteiger's arrival.

He will be introduced formally with a press conference on Wednesday at 3 p.m. from the Fire Pitch in Chicago. The press conference will air on CSN+ and be streamed live on CSNChicago.com.

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.