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updated: 9/9/2012 10:47 PM

Bears' Jennings stars against his former team

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  • Cornerback Tim Jennings intercepts a pass intended for Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery on Sunday.

      Cornerback Tim Jennings intercepts a pass intended for Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery on Sunday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The Bears' Tim Jennings runs off the field after his first half interception against the Colts in the home opener at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      The Bears' Tim Jennings runs off the field after his first half interception against the Colts in the home opener at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Cornerback Tim Jennings had his best game as a Bear against his former team Sunday.

"It was huge," he said. "(Facing) a rookie quarterback, I knew I was going to get some opportunities, and I knew I could go out there and make some plays.

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"I knew the opportunity was going to come, and I wanted to start the season off good."

Not only did Jennings pick off 2 passes for the first time in his seven-year career, he matched his previous single-season best. He has had exactly 2 interceptions in three of the past four seasons.

The 5-foot-8 Jennings also deflected an Andrew Luck pass that safety Chris Conte intercepted in the end zone, saving a possible touchdown.

"Whenever you play your old team, you want to play a certain way," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Last year he would tell you that he had opportunities to make a couple of interceptions. This year he's making the plays."

Originally drafted in the second round by the Colts in 2006, Jennings started 21 games for Indy in four seasons before joining the Bears in 2010 as an unrestricted free agent.

He started 28 games since then but was not guaranteed a job in training camp after the Bears added his former Indy teammate Kelvin Hayden at cornerback.

Jennings has worked hard since last season at improving his hands and making more impact plays, an aspect of his game he knew needed an upgrade.

"It was very, very important," he said. "I knew I was going to get more opportunities this year and had a good chance of maintaining the starting position.

"So I knew I needed to work on some of the things that hindered me last year, and that was making plays on the ball. I emphasized that in the off-season, and I was able to go out there and capitalize."

Next man up:

When starting cornerback Charles Tillman left in the second quarter with a leg injury and was replaced by Kelvin Hayden, it reunited him with former Colts teammate and fellow cornerback Tim Jennings.

"You hate to see a Pro Bowl corner like that go out," Jennings said. "But we had all the confidence in the world that Kelvin could come in there and be great right away.

"Just looking across at Kelvin reminded me of the old days. It felt good."

Keep it down:

A perturbed Jay Cutler tried to quiet the home crowd with the Bears on the goal line in the first quarter and eventually called a timeout.

"Please, please, please, let's tone it down a little bit when we're down inside the 20," Cutler pleaded. "You're more than welcome to yell and scream and do whatever you want to do after we score, but please, let's go ahead and quiet the stadium down and save it for after we score.

"Thank you, that's my PSA."

Extra points:

Long snapper Patrick Mannelly established a franchise record by playing his 15th season with the Bears, snapping a tie he had held with linebackers Bill George and Doug Buffone. The 41 points were the most the Bears have scored in a season opener since 1986.

In and out:

Nose tackle Stephen Paea (ankle), free safety Chris Conte (shoulder) and punter Adam Podlesh (hip), all of whom missed the final two preseason games, played the entire game, although Paea split time with Matt Toeaina.

Inactives were punter Ryan Quigley, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, safety Jeremy Jones, guard Ed Williams, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

There were only six inactives, since the roster remains at 52, one short of the maximum.

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