Jennings likely to start against Giants but club believes in Bowman
Bears defensive back coach Jon Hoke admitted Friday that Zack Bowman missing a third-down tackle of Packers receiver James Jones was a primary factor in his benching Monday night.
Still, Hoke hasn't given up on the third-year cornerback.
"He's still a good player," Hoke said. "He got off to a little bit of a rough start (against Green Bay), so we just gave Tim (Jennings) a shot.''
Jennings, who missed a tackle of Jones too. But on that key fourth quarter play he later came up with the game-changing fumble recovery. Jennings might start Sunday night against the Giants, but Bowman is sure to be in the mix as the two rotated practice reps Thursday and Friday.
We'll figure (the starter) out once we get there,'' Hoke said.
"Sometimes you go with the guy … Tim was hot and playing good. Is he still hot? I don't know. We haven't played yet.''
No matter which one starts, Hoke and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli need a strong effort from the defensive backs Sunday. True, the Giants have struggled with turnovers and drops, but quarterback Eli Manning has a dangerous group of receivers in Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks.
Smith is tied for 11th in the league with 18 receptions. Manningham, who returned to practice Thursday from a concussion, has a 54-yard touchdown this season. And Nicks no doubt understands he can't afford any more deflections that turn into interceptions.
"Everybody drops passes. That's just part of football,'' Hoke said. "For us, we just have to challenge. And every week is a different challenge.
"This week, we have a Pro Bowl quarterback who has won the Super Bowl. You have receivers who have been extremely productive.''
The secondary was one of the biggest concerns for the Bears entering the season, particularly at safety. Now safety seems to be the least of concerns with Danieal Manning making a smooth transition to strong safety and Chris Harris overcoming a slow start. The pressure Julius Peppers has applied helps make life easier on the defensive backs, too.
Charles Tillman, who was moved from left cornerback to right to accommodate Bowman, has been the MVP of the secondary thus far with an interception, a forced fumble and overall solid play.
"He's having a great year,'' Marinelli said. "You don't see corners like him who can hit and really tackle. The most underrated thing that he does is … I never have seen anybody pull the ball out (with a strip) like that. I think he's a special corner.
"Our defensive backs, they're getting coached really well with (Hoke). They're physical. They are playing with great speed. You see (Jennings) come in and he really shows you he can tackle. I'm just so proud of all our corners.''
"I thought Zack was off to a good year,'' Marinelli said. "Zack has proven he can tackle. We believe in him.''