Tillman on course for NFL defensive player of the year?

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Tillman on course for NFL defensive player of the year?

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named NFC defensive player of the week for his performance against Calvin Johnson in the Bears 13-7 win over the Detroit Lions last Monday. It was his second win in the last three weeks, having received the same honor for his play in the Jacksonville game, when he returned an interception for a touchdown for the second straight week.

Tillman is a favorite to add the award for NFC defensive player of the month next week, with two weekly awards in the five October weekends.

But Tillman, who was overlooked in Pro Bowl considerations for his career until last season, is moving into rarified air. His work is expected to move him into the discussion for NFL defensive player of the year.

History and hype against him

Tillmans chances are modest at best. The play and accompanying hype of Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt for his sacks and deflections make him the favorite at this juncture.

Indeed, only five players in the 40-year history of the DPOY award have been cornerbacks and three of those were on Super Bowl winners. Three of the four eligible were installed in the Hall of Fame and the fifth is headed there.

Mel Blount (1975) won as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lester Hayes (1980) won a Super Bowl as an Oakland Raider. Rod Woodson (1993) didnt reach the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers but he did and won with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, after hed moved to safety, something Tillman and the Bears arent planning in Chicago just yet.

Deion Sanders (1994) played one year with the San Francisco 49ers but made it count for a Super Bowl.

The Woodson template

The Green Bay Packers didnt win the Super Bowl in 2009 with DPOY Charles Woodson but they and he were posting Bear-like numbers that season. And team performance is unquestionably key for the award.

The Packers ranked No. 2 in yardage allowed in 2009; the Bears currently are sixth in yardage but No. 1 in scoring defense. Green Bay had 30 interceptions; the Bears have 14 through six games.

The Packers led the league with 40 takeaways in Woodsons DPOY season; the Bears have 21 through six games.

Tillman needs more than his two interceptions, however. Woodson posted his career high of nine and returned three of them for touchdowns.

Timing matters

But Tillman already has had two pick-sixs. More important perhaps, he has done some of his finest work on the national stage.

Woodson won DPOW (weekly) for his play against the high-profile Dallas Cowboys. Tillman returned his first interception for a touchdown at Dallas, and did it on MNF.

Woodson won his second DPOW for his shutting down of Calvin Johnson, holding the Detroit wideout to two catches, one for a touchdown. In winning his own second DPOW, Tillman limited Johnson to three catches, none for a touchdown.

Woodson was savvy enough to do it to Johnson in a Thanksgiving Day game. Tillman doesnt play on Thanksgiving this year but he did do his work on Johnson on the MNF platform.

After the Bears games vs. Carolina and at Tennessee, the Bears play Houston in the Sunday night prime-timer on NBC (think the network can find a story line with Tillman and Watt in the same game?)

Then they are at San Francisco eight days later for another Monday Night session.

Nothing is ever really settled in six games. But Tillman already has played his way where no Bears cornerback has gone before.

A lots been said about this over-the-hill defense gang that we have, said coach Lovie Smith. I just know that last year Charles went to the Pro Bowl at that age and he had a career year. I just know hes a good football player right now.

Maybe even the NFLs best one on defense.

Edgy Tim goes one-on-one with Mount Carmel's Terrance Taylor

Edgy Tim goes one-on-one with Mount Carmel's Terrance Taylor

Mount Carmel junior defensive end/outside linebacker Terrance Taylor (6-foot-4, 204 pounds) was simply one of the most impressive overall performers at the EDGYTIM Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy.

Taylor, who worked out as a linebacker at the showcase, also plays defensive end for Hall of Fame head coach Frank Lenti's Caravan. Taylor, who has two early verbal scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Toledo, has the look, tools, overall physical upside and potential to become a highly sought after recruit in the Class of 2018.

Take a few minutes to meet Taylor in the video above.

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

The Chicago Fire opened its preseason on Monday, but much of the focus was on a player that wasn’t there: Dax McCarty.

The Fire traded for the midfielder from the New York Red Bulls last week and he is in camp with the U.S. national team.

Leaving New York hasn’t been easy for McCarty. He tweeted a lengthy thank you note to Red Bull fans on Sunday and still hasn’t mentioned anything about the Fire publically.

Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic visited McCarty at national team camp last week to make introductions.

“We obviously knew that this had to come as a surprise to him,” Rodriguez said on Monday. “A captain of another team, he had just gotten married. There’s never a good time to have unexpected change hit you.”

Getting McCarty on board with what the club is building is going to be key for the team’s success in 2017. Integrating McCarty and the other high-profile offseason additions, fellow midfielder Juninho and striker Nemanja Nikolic, into what Paunovic wants to implement will play a big role in how the Fire start the season. In order to do so effectively means making McCarty happy with his new team.

“For sure he’s a very, very emotional guy,” Paunovic said. “I like the way he expressed how he feels at this point. We all have to empathize with that and respect his time and the situation that he is going through.”

As poor as the timing of McCarty being traded two days after getting married was, it could be to the Fire’s benefit that McCarty is with the national team now and can have some time to process the change before arriving in preseason camp with the Fire in Florida in February.

“We are waiting for him here with open arms and waiting for him to come back, to handle all this situation, to go through that, then come here clear with desire that he played so far, with the same passion, with the same effort on and off the field and for sure with leadership that he will bring to our locker room,” Paunovic said.

For now, both Rodriguez and Paunovic are preaching patience. Rodriguez said McCarty was the top target of the Fire and said the move was six months in the making.

“We respected his need to breathe and to have time to go through his emotions, to spend time with his wife,” Rodriguez said. “I think everything will come in its due course and when his time with the national team camp ends we’ll give him a little time that he might need to recover from that camp and to attend to some personal matters and we’ll embrace him when he comes.

“For those of us that are married we know that happy wife equals happy life so we have work to do with Dax and his wife and his family and having them feel comfortable about Chicago. They were looking to put down roots in New York. Whether it’s unexpected like that or it’s someone like Nemanja Nikolic who chose us and chose to come here, we still have to work with him and his family and acclimating them. Our approach and our attitude is the same, although the circumstances are different. We have to be empathetic to the sensitivity that Dax and his wife are going through.”