BBAO: Charles Tillman and special teams

We're Black and Blue All Over:

It sounds as though Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman will be available for Thursday's game against the Green Bay Packers. But Tillman didn't practice Tuesday because of a shin injury, and it's fair to ask why that injury occurred while Tillman was on the punt return team in the first half of last Sunday's victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Is it worth risking injury to your No. 1 cornerback, one who is now 31 years old, on special teams? It's not a new question, and here's how special teams coordinator Dave Toub addressed it, according to the Chicago Tribune: "We've got to have him on the field because he's the best guy that we've got. He can shut down a gunner single-handedly. There are not many guys that can do that.''

Toub said that about seven starters play at least one phase of special teams. Given how many games Toub's group has helped the Bears win over the years, it's hard to argue with his methods or coach Lovie Smith's personnel decisions. A cornerback can get kicked in the shin on defense as easily as he can on special teams.

Continuing around the NFC North: