Given the chance to practice with the Chicago Bears' starters, Zack Bowman has shown he can make interceptions.
Bowman, who is filling in for injured cornerback Charles Tillman, even became the first Bears defender in training camp to make an interception off new quarterback Jay Cutler.
Bowman has been producing dating back to the Bears June practices. He finished June workouts with a handful of interceptions, then had two interceptions in Chicago's first two practices.
"My big thing is just going out there and being more consistent," the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Bowman said.
None of the coaches are suggesting Bowman might replace Tillman or even starting right cornerback Nate Vasher. But the Bears are happy to have a surprisingly productive, young replacement.
"Considering we haven't played a game, I'd say that's jumping the gun a little bit," defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said Sunday about Bowman starting. "Because when you go to a game situation things change and so I'm anxious to see how he does in the preseason games."
The fifth-round 2008 draft pick from Nebraska credits much of his improvement to a switch in coverage techniques in Hoke's first year with the team. Chicago defensive backs are told to stay square with receivers when backpedaling now in coverage, instead of opening up their hips like they did in the past.
"You're always better off playing square in the game of football," Hoke said. "Your angles are better, you see things better, your footwork is a lot cleaner."
Bowman said it's his mistakes that have made him work harder, as much as the interceptions he's made.
"Besides the interceptions, I had a lot of dropped balls out there," Bowman said. "But coach Hoke kept hounding on me, saying, 'When you get the opportunity, go make that play, make that play, make that play.'
"That's what I thought really helped as much as the interceptions."
Tillman, who is recovering from back surgery, is expected to return to the lineup near the end of training camp. Once he's back, Bowman said he would be willing to play in any spot.
"If they need me to play nickel, I'll play nickel. If they need me to play safety I'll play safety," he said. "Basically I'm just willing to do anything and everything just to get a chance to stay on the field."
NOTES: Linebackers Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer missed Sunday's practice with what coach Lovie Smith called "soreness" without specifying. He said the injuries were not serious and both players are expected back Monday.... The Bears unveiled their own version of the wildcat offense with wide receiver Devin Hester taking a snap from center and faking a handoff. Quarterback Jay Cutler lined up as a wide receiver. ... Olivet Nazarene University officials set the attendance for Sunday's practice at 11,000, a record.