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Charles Tillman placed on I.R. with designation to return

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) makes a touchdown reception against Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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LAKE FOREST — Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has a triceps injury and was placed on injured reserve designated for return, the team announced Monday.

He is allowed to return to practice in six weeks, but he can’t play in a game for eight weeks, so the only way Tillman plays in a game this season is if the Bears make the playoffs.

Tillman finished Sunday’s loss to the Lions, missing only five snaps early in the contest. He had five tackles and two passes defensed.

"I knew something happened in the second half," Tillman said Monday. "I don’t know exactly what play, I just remember shoving Calvin [Johnson] on one play and I felt something kind of strain, perhaps tear. I just felt a sharp pain."

This season, Tillman has started eight games and has 41 tackles, seven passes defensed and three picks.

"Yea, it hurts. I’m definitely sad. This team has a lot, we have a lot of potential," he said. "The fact that I’m no longer a part of that to help this team further succeed, that’s the part that hurts. My role right now is to be the biggest cheerleader and supporter on the sideline."

Prior to missing the game earlier this season against the Giants, Tillman had not missed a game since 2009. Zack Bowman will start in his spot going forward.

"He's a veteran. He's been in this defense a while," Tillman said about Bowman. "He's been a starter on this defense before Tim got here. So I think Zack Bowman is a good fit. He's the next man up and I have nothing but confidence and faith in Zack. I think he can get the job done."

Bowman has been with the Bears since 2008 and started 12 games in ’09, recording 10 passes defensed and six picks. He has played in all nine games this season and had an interception when he started for Tillman against the Giants.

“There’s no way to replicate what Charles can do. We know Zack’s up and we saw what Zack can do," Marc Trestman said. "Zack played in the Giant game and made a big play for us early in the game. He’s got the ability to play. He’s not going to tell you he’s Charles Tillman and we’re not going to tell you that either.

"But he’s a good football player and he’ll step in and I’m sure be at his best and that’s where we are. We’ve got to step up in special teams because that has a special teams effect too because now Zack will be up starting for us.”

Tillman, like fellow Bears on injured reserve Henry Melton and D.J. Williams, is in the final year of his contract.

"I didn't really think about it," he said. "I'm still under contract currently. So my whole view and thought process is I'm still a Bear. So when I'm no longer a Bear then we can talk about that. But for right now I'm still an employee of this organization so no need to talk about it."