Tim Jennings' outward appearance indicated everything was fine. Deep inside, the Bears cornerback was fuming.
Jennings already had to fend off Zack Bowman during training camp. Then the team decided to look into then-free agent cornerback Kelvin Hayden, Jennings' former teammate with the Colts and a close friend.
"I told Kelvin, 'If you come, just make sure you put some money to the side to give to me because you'll be taking money out of my pocket,'" Jennings said.
He was somewhat kidding and somewhat serious.
"Honestly, I did feel some heat because when you bring in another corner … obviously there's nothing that I've done to satisfy you,'' Jennings said. "Yeah, we may need depth, but you're bringing in a potential starting corner. That made me raise my play.''
When the Bears open their season Sunday against the Falcons, Jennings will be in the starting lineup at left cornerback. He will glance across the field and see Hayden, who likely will take the field as the Falcons' nickel back.
The Bears decided not to pursue Hayden, a former Illinois and Hubbard star, after he visited training camp and took a physical. He apparently passed the test, but the Bears still had some medical concerns.
Jennings had concerns up until Hayden left town without a contract.
"I never said anything to any of the coaches,'' Jennings said. "After the fact, when everything didn't go as expected, coach (Jon) Hoke probably came to me and said, `Sometimes, you can believe some of the stuff you hear.'
"Zack (Bowman) probably felt the same way when I came in here. As players and competitors, you take someone else coming in as fire in your behind that you have to step your game up. So that's what I did.''
Veteran Charles Tillman, the starting right corner, took the same approach.
"We all have a reason to be concerned. No one's job is guaranteed,'' Tillman said. "Our jobs are in jeopardy every week: myself, Zack, Corey (Graham) and Tim. I think we're all good guys. But we're all gunning for a starting job and there can only be two corners on the field at one time.''
Sunday, the Bears will need Tillman and Jennings to be on point against an explosive Falcons offense quarterback Matt Ryan leads. Veteran receiver Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones provide a potent, 1-2 punch capable of running circles around defensive backfields.
"They both can run, block, catch,'' Jennings said of the Atlanta duo. "I think Julio, he's much faster than what people think he is. We've seen on film where he's getting past safeties, so that lets me know he has some speed. And he likes to block down the field and be real physical.''
Jennings is known to be physical, too. About the same time the Bears were investigating Hayden, linebacker Brian Urlacher spoke out about how great a tackler Jennings has been from the moment he joined the Bears.
"I do take pride in that,'' Jennings said. "That means a lot coming from Brian. But (he) doesn't make the personnel decisions. When you've got other people coming in … obviously they wanted to see more out of me. And they will.''
Atlanta did a fairly good job of keeping key components of it's Oline intact and Michael Turner is no slouch so this will be a great test for our defense. Jennings and Tillman have some very tough WR's to go up against this week so how well we can defend the pass should be on show come Sunday.
I still feel we made a mistake not pursuing some help at CB once the Oline deal fell apart and there were still a few good vets left in FA. Didn't happen and I don't see much if any help out there now so what do we have? Fresh bread or toast?
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.