LINK to the article Jay Taft: Tim Jennings wants his spot back on Chicago Bears
LAKE FOREST — After multiple subpar performances, Tim Jennings was benched late last season. But the veteran cornerback returned to finish strong against Minnesota in the season finale, and has spent the offseason building himself back up to be a starter once again.
With organized team activities (OTAs) out of the way, and next week’s mandatory mini-camp on the horizon, his sights are set on revamping his reputation.
“Oh yeah, most definitely. You’ve seen the moves they’ve made in the offseason. They brought in some corners. We drafted two more. There’s a lot of talent here,” Jennings said. “It’s just going to have to make me step up my game a little bit more and get me to go out there and continue to work hard and get better at some things.”
One of those things is securing turnovers. Jennings has just seven picks in his six-year career, and he had two slip through his hands in the second half of the season last year.
The Bears originally signed Jennings away from the Colts to be their third cornerback, but he immediately beat out Zack Bowman and started 28 of his first 30 games with Chicago. After what Jennings called his worst stretch as a pro, the Bears benched him for the Christmas Day loss at Green Bay, but he returned with a team-high eight tackles in the season finale at Minnesota.
Jennings will now be challenged from Tuesday until the end of training camp for his starting spot. The Bears signed free-agent corners Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite through free agency, and then added late-round draft picks Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy for needed depth.
After Bowman was released and Corey Graham signed as a free-agent with Baltimore, the Bears are going to rely on the young guys. If Jennings can return to his old form, and become a strong compliment to Pro Bowler Charles Tillman, they won’t have to rely on them quite as much.
Jennings believes he’s already better. But he also knows he’s still got to show that to the right people.
“We’re going to throw them all in there this summer,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said,
“and make them battle each other.
That will only make th.em better, and make us better.”
“Nothing is set in stone. They already told me heads up that I’m still going to go out there and compete for a starting job,” Jennings added. “So I have to go out there and compete each and every day and improve, and let the coaches know that if I’m not their guy, they’re going to make the decision, but I want to make it tough for them.
“I don’t plan on letting this opportunity slip by.” Jay Taft covers the Chicago Bears for the Rockford Register Star. He can be reached at 815-987-1384 or email@example.com.