By Laurence Holmes-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — Training Camp usually allows for good battles. Sometimes it’s two guys fighting for one job, but occasionally you get a solid battle between an offensive and defensive player. So far through three practices, that battle has been between Charles Tillman and Johnny Knox.
In the first practice on Saturday, the two players got physical with each other down the field. A small disagreement occurred and was broken up. Later that night I ran into Tillman and asked him about it.
“It’s my job to toughen these guys up,” Tillman said. “The wideouts need to know that this is what to expect in real games.”
The Bears’ veteran cornerback isn’t going to change his style just because Knox is a friend and teammate. Tillman has a history of this. A few years ago, watching Tillman go up against Muhsin Muhammad was epic — especially because both guys are legendary yappers on the field. When it wasn’t Muhammad, it was Devin Hester. Tillman wants these receivers prepared for the physical play during the regular season.
Knox isn’t a talker, but he isn’t backing down either. When the two are matched up, he doesn’t give in. Knox is sporting a bigger frame this season. He told me in the off-season he put on 12 pounds to get ready for the grind of the regular season. He wants to expand his game so he’s a guy who burns you with speed but can still go up and fight for balls. The hope is that the extra muscle will make it easier to get off a jam and avoid getting re-routed. He understands why Tillman is not taking it easy on him.
“That’s what we need, him to beat on us,” Knox said. “Because we’re gonna play corners just as good as him and as physical. We need that to get tougher.”
Last year, Knox came up 40 yards short of the 1,000 yards he was hoping for. He tied with Matt Forte for the most catches on the team (51).
With the Bears holding their first full-padded practice on Monday night the battle continued. If you make it down to Bourbonnais, pay close attention to this fun matchup.
Other Notes From Monday’s Practice:
-Linebacker J.T. Thomas has changed his number from 52 to 97, to accommodate Brian Iwuh who re-signed with the team on Sunday.
-Marion Barber was at practice. He didn’t want to talk until he practices. His dreads have gotten long.
-Rookie WR Dane Sazenbacher was impressive, to the point of Lovie Smith saying “we noticed him tonight…”
-No matter what the weather is, Chris Harris always wears sleeves. I promise, I’ll follow up with DJ 46 to find out why…
-Sam Hurd and Roy Williams were making sure they were in the huddle for every play-call that the first unit had on 7-on-7 drills. Neither can practice, but it’s good to see that they want to learn quickly. Williams spent a lot of time picking Cutler’s brain after plays.
-Martz worked individually with Devin Hester during a session on getting the proper depth in his route.
-Lance Briggs took a couple of inadvertent hits, but finished the practice and is OK.
-Play of the night goes to my colleague Peggy Kusinski of NBC 5. During 11-on-11, Sazenbacher caught a ball and was headed out of bounds. P.K. got herself in front of Megan Mawicke of CBS 2 and pulled her away from any danger. Mawicke is seven months pregnant and P.K. did a solid job of looking out for her. Best block I saw all night…
For live updates during training camp, follow Laurence Holmes on Twitter (@LHolmes670).