White Sox

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.

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

For over two years, Charlie Tilson was starting to look like his own version of "Moonlight" Graham, the player made famous in the movie "Field of Dreams" because he played in one major league game and never got to bat.

The White Sox traded for Tilson just before the trade deadline passed in 2016. Two days later he made his big league debut with the White Sox in Detroit. He got a single in his first at-bat, but left the game with an injury and missed the rest of the season. Tilson also missed all of the 2017 season and his MLB future was starting to come into question.

Back healthy, Tilson started this season in Triple-A Charlotte and hit .248 in 39 games when he got called up to replace Leury Garcia, who was placed on the disabled list. On Thursday, Tilson returned to a big league field for the first time in more than 20 months. He went 0-for-3 in a loss to Baltimore.

Friday marked a return to the site of Tilson's big league debut and the injury that made it such a brief stint. Tilson has now played three big league games, over the course of nearly 21 months, and two of them have been in Detroit.

Tilson went 1-for-4, meaning both his hits are in Comerica Park. The White Sox lost 5-4 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Fred Mitchell, Seth Gruen and Jason Goch join David Kaplan on the panel.

The Cubs bats come alive against the Giants while Theo says there have been plenty of trade rumors but no trade talks. Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

Plus, Ray Ratto joins Kap to talk about the Warriors struggles and the guys debate if LeBron is playing his final game in a Cavaliers uniform.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: