LAKE FOREST — Tim Jennings is feeling pretty good about himself and his team these days. Much has changed for the former Georgia star in a year.
LAKE FOREST — Tim Jennings is feeling pretty good about himself and his team these days.
Much has changed for the former Georgia star in a year.
“I came in to play, I made some plays, and we’re still playing now,” said Jennings, who was offered a contract by the Indianapolis Colts at the end of the 2009 season. “It’s all working out pretty well for me.”
Signed to a two-year deal in March by the Bears as an unrestricted free agent, Jennings has completed the turnaround, as he will be the starting cornerback for the Bears when they take on the Packers in Sunday’s NFC championship game.
Few slated him to be a starter for Chicago this season, but he took over for Zack Bowman at left cornerback in Week 4, and has started every game since. He had five tackles and two passes defensed in Sunday’s 35-24 win over Seattle and was sixth on the team with 66 tackles in the regular season.
“He’s, well I don’t know if I would say playing with a chip on his shoulder, but he got cut by Indy and he wanted to show he belongs here. He’s done that,” said second-year nickelback D.J. Moore, “He’s just made the most of his opportunities. No matter where you are or who you are, you want to prove yourself.”
Jennings has proved himself to the Bears coaching staff.
“The one thing we did see when we looked at Tim was he was a tough, competitive guy. But he’s taken that to another step,” Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “Both of our corners are so physical. I’m so proud of what these guys do and how tough they are and how well they tackle and how well they compete.
“To answer your question, he’s turned into a heck of a ballplayer for us.”
Jennings replaced a hobbled Bowman in Week 3 and had seven tackles and a fumble recovery in a three-point win over Green Bay. He had nine tackles and an interception in a win over Buffalo that snapped an ugly two-game home losing skid, and he broke up two key passes and had three tackles in the last meeting with the Packers.
Green Bay pulled out a 10-3 win in that defensive battle. Jennings is hoping to help make Sunday’s game another defensive battle, but one that goes the other way.
“We have to beat Green Bay to get to where we want to go. It’s not a disrespect type of thing. They are just in our way,” Jennings said. “We beat them here, now let’s go get them back out there and take advantage again.”
If Jennings was happy to get picked up by a team after being cut, and was ecstatic to regain a starting spot, then now he’s beaming with delight to be back in the playoffs. And deep in the playoffs, at that.
He’s happy, but not surprised.
“We knew we had all the talent we needed, and we had all the pieces here,” Jennings said. “We always knew we had the potential to do this. We knew once we got the ball rolling, we’d be tough to beat.”
His 2006 Colts not only made it deep into the playoffs, but they won it all. Jennings was mainly a special teams cog for that squad. Now he’s hoping to be a key cog on another Super Bowl champion squad.
“This means a lot to me. This is what I’m used to,” he said. “I’m used to going to playoffs, going deep into the playoffs. This is me back where I belong.”
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or email@example.com.