Bears’ Jennings, Moore not afraid to hit
Starting cornerback Tim Jennings and nickel corner D.J. Moore are easily the two smallest players on the Bears’ defense, but both pack a big punch.
“It seems like guys who don’t have as much size normally play with a chip on their shoulder a little bit,” coach Lovie Smith said. “But whenever you bring up size those guys will let you know they’ve been this size all their lives and they’ve had success doing it.”
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings moved ahead of Zack Bowman and into the starting lineup in Week 4 and has been there ever since. He is third on the team with 9 pass breakups and sixth with 66 tackles.
The 5-foot-9, 183-pound Moore barely touched the field last year, playing briefly in just three games. But he’s found a niche as the Bears’ third cornerback in passing situations. He was third on the team with 4 interceptions, one of which he returned 54 yards for a touchdown.
“He’s another guy who was on the outside looking in when we started the season,” Smith said. “But he’s made play after play throughout the season.”
Coach Lovie Smith hopes to lose some of his assistant coaches — if the Bears’ playoff season allows them to get promotions elsewhere.
“When you have success, you want others to reap the benefits from it,” Smith said. “Our guys have done a great job, to a man. Hopefully someone will want to look at someone from off of our staff. Always I try to promote that, encourage it and hopefully it will happen.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and offensive line coach Mike Tice are all former NFL head coaches, but none have been mentioned as candidates.
Just a week after being voted to his seventh Pro Bowl — but his first in four years — middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was, for the first time, named NFC defensive player of the month.
Teammate Julius Peppers won the award in November. Only two other Bears have won — linebacker Wilber Marshall in December 1986, and defensive end Trace Armstrong in September 1990.
Urlacher, who missed 15 games last season with a dislocated wrist, led the NFC with 49 tackles in five December/January games and added 1½ sacks, a forced fumble and 3 pass breakups.
Players had Friday off and will not practice again until Monday.
“We have (time) to rest up, evaluate what we’ve done the entire football season, and see the direction we’re going with our next opponent.”
At noon on Jan. 16, the Bears will play the higher seeded team from the winners of the Saints-Seahawks game and the Packers-Eagles match.