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Hayden to replace injured Jennings

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 7, 2012 – 1:46 pm

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings did not practice Friday and was ruled out of Sunday’s game in Minnesota with a shoulder injury he sustained in last weekend’s overtime loss to the Seahawks.

With Jennings out, veteran Kelvin Hayden will make his first start of the season. The Chicago native signed with his hometown team in April after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Colts (2005-10) and Falcons (2011), appearing in 85 games with 47 starts.

“Kelvin has played a lot of ball,” said coach Lovie Smith. “This is not his first time starting or anything like that. Tim eventually will be back, but in the meantime Kelvin will step up.”

Hayden was selected by the Colts in the second round of the 2005 draft. The highlight of his career came in Super Bowl XLI when he intercepted a Rex Grossman pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown to help lead Indianapolis to a 29-17 win over the Bears.

“He’s been in this system,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “Not just here, but in Indy. He understands the system. He’s a good player. It’s his chance to step up and really go right now. He’s started in a Super Bowl and all of those things. He’s going to do fine.”

In other injury news, receivers Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) practiced without restrictions Friday and were listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Jeffery has missed six of the last seven games, while Hester sat out last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.

“Early in the week they were a little banged up,” Smith said. “Each day it got a little bit better. Today for the most part they were able to do most of the stuff that we ask them to do.”

Running back Michael Bush (ribs), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) were limited and listed as questionable, but all three are expected to be available Sunday.

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Tillman recovering from leg injury

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 10, 2012 – 4:33 pm

Although the Bears did not practice Monday, they were required to submit an injury report to the NFL because they play Thursday night against the Packers in Green Bay.

Had they worked out, cornerback Charles Tillman (shin) and tight end Kyle Adams (shoulder) would not have practiced and tackle J’Marcus Webb (thumb) would have been limited.

Brian Urlacher also would have been held out as a precautionary measure as he works his way back following arthroscopic knee surgery.

The star middle linebacker started Sunday’s season opener against the Colts after missing more than a month of training camp and all four preseason games. Urlacher sat out most of the second half after the Bears had built a 20-point lead.

“I’m pleased with the way he played his first time out,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “You have to look at it like that. It was his first action when they’re cutting you live and having to take on blocks. I think he did a decent job with it.”

Tillman injured his lower leg while blocking during a Colts punt early in Sunday’s game. He returned for a couple defensive series before being replaced by Kelvin Hayden, an eight-year veteran who signed with the Bears in April.

“Of course we want Charles out on the football field as much as possible,” Smith said. “We felt coming in that we had three starting corner types, saying Kelvin is one.

“Kelvin came in, did a good job, had a big hit, and made a couple big plays, so it was good to get him into the mix. We’ll need all three corners during the course of the year. But we need to get [Tillman] back out there.”

Smith said that he expects Tillman to play Thursday night in Green Bay, but the Bears coach conceded that his “glass is half-full always.”

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Hayden happy to be home with Bears

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 25, 2012 – 2:46 pm

Fantasy has become reality for veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden, a Chicago native who signed with the Bears in April after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Colts and Falcons.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hayden said Wednesday at training camp. “Growing up as a kid, everybody dreams of playing for the hometown team. I’m fortunate enough for it to be reality. I’m going to try to make the best of it and enjoy every bit of it.”

As a kid, Hayden donned a Bears uniform his family purchased from Toys “R” Us that included a helmet, shoulder pads and Walter Payton jersey. When Hayden takes the field Thursday for the first training camp practice, his relatives will be cheering him on from the bleachers.

“I told them to keep it down,” Hayden said with a laugh. “Every day they wait for training camp. They’re saying that they’re going to be out here every day; things like that. They’re enjoying it as much as I am.”

Hayden, who opens training camp as a reserve behind starter Tim Jennings, will provide quality depth in the secondary. He hopes to help the Bears return to the Super Bowl for the first time since he played a key role in defeating them in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

Hayden generated a pivotal play for the Colts in that game, intercepting a Rex Grossman pass and returning it 56 yards for a touchdown to give Indianapolis a 29-17 lead.

“When I first stepped in the building, guys were giving me a little bit of heat, but I think it was all out of fun,” Hayden said. “I try to put that behind me because this team has all the right tools to be that team.

“This team gives me the feel of the Indy team that won the Super Bowl. We were loaded then. It’s just a [matter] of guys staying healthy and guys going out there and doing their job.”

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