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Jennings keeps coming up big

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 30, 2013 – 5:50 pm

Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings is the smallest player on the Bears roster. But what the 5-8, 185-pounder lacks in size, he more than makes up for in toughness and determination.

“He’s super competitive,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “A guy that size, to compete at that level, whether it’s the run game or the pass game, he plays with a chip on his shoulder.”

Jennings enters the season looking to build on a career year. He had nine interceptions in 2012, becoming the first Bears player to lead the NFL in picks since Mark Carrier had 10 in 1990. Jennings’ nine interceptions are tied with Roosevelt Taylor for the second most in team history.

Jennings set a Bears single-season record with three multi-interception games against the Colts, Panthers and Texans. He returned one of his picks 25 yards for his first career touchdown versus Carolina, fueling a 23-22 comeback win. Jennings also broke up a team-high 16 passes, including two that were intercepted by teammates.

“He’s a pleasure to coach,” Tucker said. “He’s a guy that you can count in. You know what you’re going to get from him each and every day out here. I think that’s a mental approach first and foremost with him and then on top of that he does have outstanding athletic ability.

“So you take a great mental approach with mental toughness and wanting to prove yourself every day and you take that with athletic ability, then that’s how you get Tim Jennings.”


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Players eager to prove their value

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 25, 2013 – 2:35 pm

General manager Phil Emery’s declaration that the Bears likely won’t sign any contract extensions during the season is motivating some players who are in the final years of their deals.

“I’m more excited that this is my contract year,” said return specialist Devin Hester. “I’d rather do my contract after the season is over because the way I’m feeling now, I could boost my stock a whole lot from where it’s at now. I’m not really paying attention to the contract. I’d rather have mine after the season because what I’m planning on doing this year is going to help me out.”

Emery said Wednesday that he didn’t anticipate signing any players to new deals because he wants the focus to be on the field and the Bears have little room under the salary cap.

“Most definitely it motivates you,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, who is one of more than 40 Bears players entering the final year of his contract. “It’s not disappointing. I guess it’s just writing on the wall for a lot of guys. We’ve got a new front office, a new head coach and a new coaching staff.

“Hopefully everything plays out for itself with guys here and we make the Super Bowl run and they’re going to have to start talking to a lot of guys and hopefully keep the right guys in the right places for years to come. They’ve got their plan in place and we’ve got to see how it goes.”

Other players in the same position as Hester and Jennings include James Anderson, Jay Cutler, Roberto Garza, Robbie Gould, Kelvin Hayden, Patrick Mannelly, Henry Melton, Matt Slauson, Craig Steltz, Charles Tillman, J’Marcus Webb, D.J. Williams, Corey Wootton and Major Wright.

“I feel like I could stay here for a while,” said Anderson, who inked a one-year deal with the Bears after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers. “A one-year deal just means ‘go prove yourself.’ So you go out there and you play ball and you let the chips fall where they may.”


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Jennings tops fan balloting for Pro Bowl

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 20, 2012 – 2:55 pm

Ten Bears finished in the top five at their respective positions in fan balloting for the NFC Pro Bowl team, which ended Monday.

The only Bears player to lead his position in votes was cornerback Tim Jennings, who tops the NFL with eight interceptions. Cornerback Charles Tillman, defensive tackle Henry Melton and return specialist Devin Hester all finished second at their positions.

Receiver Brandon Marshall and strong safety Major Wright were third; defensive end Julius Peppers and special teams standout Blake Costanzo were fourth; and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and outside linebacker Lance Briggs were fifth.

The Pro Bowl teams are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent NFC and AFC.

NFL players and coaches cast their votes this week. The teams will be announced at 6 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Dec. 26 on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.”

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, a week before Super Bowl XLVII, and televised live on NBC at 6 p.m. (CT) from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.


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Jennings, Tillman 1-2 in Pro Bowl voting

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 29, 2012 – 1:21 pm

Ten Bears rank in the top five at their respective positions in the latest fan balloting for the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Tim Jennings (189,791 votes) and Charles Tillman (137,031) are the top vote-getters at cornerback, while Henry Melton (155,377) leads all defensive tackles.

Brandon Marshall (263,700) is second behind the Giants’ Victor Cruz (352,611) at receiver and Major Wright (71,532) is second behind the Packers’ Charles Woodson (78,503) at strong safety.

Kick returner Devin Hester (67,585) and special teams standout Blake Costanzo (36,790) are third; inside linebacker Brian Urlacher (86,345) is fourth; and defensive end Julius Peppers (109,090) and outside linebacker Lance Briggs (99,901) are fifth.

Pro Bowl voting will continue online and on mobile phones via NFL.com/probowl through Monday, Dec. 17. The teams will be announced at 6 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Dec. 26 on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.”

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, a week before Super Bowl XLVII, and televised live on NBC at 6 p.m. (CT) from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

The all-star squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent NFC and AFC. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes Dec. 20-21.


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Jennings, Tillman 1-2 in Pro Bowl voting

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 14, 2012 – 4:45 pm

Eleven Bears players rank in the top five at their respective positions in fan balloting for the NFC Pro Bowl team, the NFL announced Wednesday.

Tim Jennings (116,347 votes) and Charles Tillman (80,604) are the top vote-getters at cornerback, while Henry Melton (98,957) leads all defensive tackles.

Brandon Marshall (153,574) is second behind the Giants’ Victor Cruz (257,016) at receiver and Major Wright (46,976) is second behind the Packers’ Charles Woodson (53,531) at strong safety.

Kick returner Devin Hester (43,315) and special teams standout Blake Costanzo (25,209) are third; inside linebacker Brian Urlacher (55,465) and kicker Robbie Gould (24,344) are fourth; and defensive end Julius Peppers (70,082) and outside linebacker Lance Briggs (67,062) are fifth.

Pro Bowl voting will continue online and on mobile phones via NFL.com/probowl through Monday, Dec. 17. The teams will be announced at 6 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Dec. 26 on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.”

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, a week before Super Bowl XLVII, and televised live on NBC at 6 p.m. (CT) from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

The all-star squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent NFC and AFC. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes Dec. 20-21.


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Bears cornerbacks make history

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 1, 2012 – 4:49 pm

Bears teammates Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are providing some pretty compelling evidence that they’re the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.

Tillman has been selected the NFC defensive player of the month for October after Jennings won the award in September. The two are the first cornerbacks from the same team to claim the award in back-to-back months.

“It’s special to see that, and they are playing at such a high level,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “They’re great players, and they’re doing a great job.”

Tillman was honored after returning interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games and holding Lions Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson to three receptions for a season-low 34 yards. Jennings leads the NFL with a career-high six interceptions, one of which he brought back 25 yards for his first pro touchdown.

While the 6-2, 198-pound Tillman generally matches up against bigger receivers like Johnson, the 5-8, 185-pound Jennings shadows smaller, quick receivers such as the Panthers’ Steve Smith.

“He has his style; I have my style,” Tillman said. “I think it’s what makes our defense a little bit better than some, especially in years past the way we’re able to match up against different receivers. I definitely think that’s a bonus for us.”

Asked if he and Jennings should be recognized as the best cornerback tandem in the NFL, Tillman said: “I don’t know. We’re only halfway through the season, and I definitely think there’s some room for improvement with myself and Tim.

“The sky’s the limit. I definitely think we can, but you don’t get any awards halfway through the season for being the best cornerback tandem. I definitely think there’s potential for that. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing; making plays, covering receivers, creating turnovers, getting our offense some good field position and scoring.”


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Moore aiming to catch Jennings

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 28, 2012 – 1:29 pm

With four interceptions in the first three games this season, cornerback Tim Jennings has already matched nickel back D.J. Moore’s team-leading total from last year. But Moore is not conceding his title.

“I’m going to try to [catch Jennings],” said Moore, who has yet to intercept a pass this season. “He’s jumping out right now. It happens in bunches. I’ll eventually I’ll catch him.”

Jennings not only leads the NFL with a career-high four interceptions, he also has created the Bears’ two other picks by deflecting passes that Chris Conte and Major Wright snared.

“I just think it’s confidence,” Moore said. “He’s been real patient. Once you start catching them and once you start feeling good about yourself, it just naturally happens.”

As the Bears prepare to visit the Cowboys Monday night, Moore is hoping to replicate the performance he delivered in his only previous game in Dallas. In a 27-20 victory in 2010, Moore recorded the first two interceptions of his career, both on tipped passes.

“Everybody else was tackling pretty hard and I was just a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time,” said Moore, who has eight interceptions in 35 career games with the Bears.


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Jennings excited about facing Manning

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 7, 2012 – 7:36 pm

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is eager to watch future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning make his Denver Broncos debut in Thursday night’s preseason opener at Soldier Field.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings back to the game,” said Jennings, who spent his first four NFL seasons as one of Manning’s teammates with the Indianapolis Colts from 2006-09.

“When I first got in the league I thought I wasn’t that good when I was there. He just makes you feel that way. He had a lot of guys around him: Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley.

“I came in there and it just kind of made me feel smaller than what I was, but I just had to realize I was going against a lot of [future] Hall of Famers and Pro Bowlers.”

Jennings has been excelling in training camp while working with the No. 1 defense. Although starters don’t typically play too much in the first preseason game, the seventh-year pro is hoping to get some quality reps against Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history.

“Hopefully he’ll play a good amount with the starters and our ones in there because we want to get this thing rolling,” Jennings said. “It’s a good test to go against Peyton Manning and a high-powered offense just to see where we’re at as a defense.”


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