Tillman on Urlacher: A cutthroat business

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Cornerback Charles Tillman said Tuesday all of the Chicago Bears' offseason changes, including the failed contract negotiations with free agent middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, re-enforced the concept that no one is irreplaceable in the NFL.

"(Urlacher) had a great career. I wish he was here, but it's a cutthroat business," Tillman said. "I mean, you saw Peyton Manning got cut, we didn't re-sign Brian ... ultimately no one is safe on one team forever. I don't care how many Piccolo Awards you win, at the of the day it's a business, it's cut-throat."

Tillman was honored, along with defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin, with the Brian Piccolo Award, and he

made sure to mention two influential men who were not present at Tuesday's award ceremony at Halas Hall: former coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

"I want to thank coach (Jon) Hoke for pushing me, coach Marinelli for pushing me, coach Smith for pushing me," said Tillman, who won the award for the third time. "Without those three men in my life, I don't think any of (my accomplishments) are possible without those three men pushing me to my maximum capacity as a player."

Tillman commented on the new coaching staff on Tuesday for the first time since the Bears offseason program commenced on April 2 -- the cornerback politely declined to comment last week at the team's voluntary three-day minicamp -- and described the transition from Smith to new Bears coach Marc Trestman as "good."

"So far it's been going good," Tillman said. "For sure it's different, but you know, it's still going good though. There are no quarrels, there's no bad blood. It's a business. It's a cutthroat business. That's kind of how it goes."

Not only has there been turnover in terms of personnel, Trestman has changed the daily routine veteran players had grown accustomed to over the previous nine years under Smith. Trestman has attempted to speed up the day for players by holding more up-tempo practices and shortening meetings. The goal is not to cut corners in regards to the workload, but to decrease the amount of wasted minutes spent at the facility.

There are two other noticeable changes: There is no longer a clock present on the practice field that displays the number of minutes left in a period, and a member of the team's support staff blows an air horn in the hallways of Halas Hall when meetings are to end.

The rationale behind those small tweaks to the routine is that if a player doesn't know when a practice period or meeting is scheduled to end, the odds of receiving the player's maximum effort and keeping his attention the entire time increases.

But Trestman's efforts will be wasted if members of the Bears' veteran core fails to embrace the new system.

Peppers believes the Bears have enough veteran leaders to do just that.

"We never want to place that leadership responsibility on one person or just a few guys," Peppers said. "We like to spread it out because we need everybody to be leaders."