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Tillman earns 1st Pro Bowl berth

Caption
(AP photo)
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman celebrates an interception with teammates Brandon Meriweather (center) and Zack Bowman (left) on Dec. 11 against the Denver Broncos in Denver. Tillman was selected Tuesday for the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO – Charles Tillman finally can try to force a fumble in the Pro Bowl.

The Bears’ cornerback will have company next month in Hawaii. He is scheduled to be joined by Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Corey Graham when the Pro Bowl kicks off Jan. 29 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Tillman, 30, earned his first Pro Bowl selection Tuesday as the NFL announced rosters for both conferences. The selection ended a nine-year wait for Tillman, who has three forced fumbles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries this season.

Tillman has 27 forced fumbles in his career, which is the most by any defensive back since 2003.

He also is fourth on the Bears’ all-time list with 29 career interceptions.

Back again: Briggs earned his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl selection, while Urlacher earned his eighth Pro Bowl selection to lead all active Bears players.

Briggs, 31, leads the Bears with 140 tackles this season to go along with two forced fumbles and an interception. He moved closer to Hall of Famer Mike Singletary’s franchise record of 10 consecutive Pro Bowl selections.

Urlacher, 33, is second on the Bears this season with 125 tackles in addition to three interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles.

First timers: Tillman was not the only Bears player to earn his first Pro Bowl trip.

Forte, 26, led the NFL with 1,487 yards from scrimmage when he sprained his right knee in Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The injury forced an early ending to Forte’s season, but he could be healthy enough to take part in the game next month.

Graham, 26, earned his first Pro Bowl selection for his special-teams contributions. He leads the team with 20 special-teams tackles and a forced fumble this season.

Play it safe: The Bears officially ruled out Forte and Jay Cutler for the regular season finale against the Minnesota Vikings by placing both players on injured reserve.

Neither move came as a surprise after the Bears (7-8) were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.

The team had hoped to bring back one or both players for the regular-season finale in advance of a playoff run, but a five-game losing streak spoiled those plans and encouraged a safer approach.

Cutler, who broke his right thumb in Week 11, finished his third season with the Bears with an 85.7 passer rating (2,319 passing yards, 13 TD, 7 INT) in 10 starts.

Bears bits: The Bears promoted defensive tackle Jordan Miller from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. … The Bears also signed ex-Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto to the 53-man roster.

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