Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/14/2014 11:59 PM

Jennings out to prove he's worth a nickel

Success - Article sent! close

Tim Jennings missed half of training camp with a quad injury, which normally wouldn't be much of a problem for the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, who is now back to full strength.

But this year, in addition to playing cornerback in the base defense, Jennings is moving to nickel back in passing situations, enabling first-round draft pick Kyle Fuller to play one of the outside corner positions.

"It's a rep game," said Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. "So, yeah, he does have some catching up to do from the nickel position primarily; not as much at corner."

As the nickel corner, Jennings will move inside and have responsibility for the opponent's slot receiver, and will operate with a different perspective.

"Things happen so much faster in there, so it's a change for him," Hoke said. "So it's different from that standpoint."

Despite the increased degree of difficulty, Jennings did not have to be persuaded to take on the challenge of playing both positions.

"He was more than willing to do it," Hoke said. "Tim's a team guy. Whatever he thinks can help the football team, he's willing to do."

Thursday night against the Jaguars, Jennings didn't get any time to work on his nickel job because Fuller suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff. Kelvin Hayden moved into the nickel spot with Jennings remaining on the outside with Charles Tillman.

Safeties in numbers:

At the safety positions, there are many more contenders than roster spots, and most of them have at least gotten some reps with the first team.

"What we've done with the safeties is we've worked different combinations," said Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. "And, at the end of the day, we'll have a starting group, and we'll have a rotation."

Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray have gotten most of the first-team reps, and they started each of the first two preseason games. McCray was especially active against the Jaguars with 4 solo tackles in just over a quarter, although he allowed a 21-yard completion to tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Battling it out:

Starting quarterback Jay Cutler believes the battle for the No. 2 job between Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer could go down to the wire.

"I think they had a few headset issues in the second half, so it was tough on Jimmy," Cutler said. "He overcame it, though. And Jordan, with the game-winning drive. Those guys are playing well, battling. It's probably going to come down to that last preseason game.

"They're both overcoming adversity in practice from time to time. I'm glad I don't have to make the decision."

To your health:

Tenth-year defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff is in much better condition this year and preparing to play a full season for the first time since 2011 in Dallas, when he made the last of his four Pro Bowls.

"He's had an off-season to prepare," Mel Tucker said. "What he did a year ago was tremendous. He was physical, he was stout, he was a leader, and I think he's made progress even from that point."

Ratliff and Stephen Paea split a first-quarter sack of Chad Henne.

Injury report:

Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered a right ankle injury on the opening kickoff and did not return. He was replaced as the No. 1 nickel corner by veteran Kelvin Hayden.

Tight end Zach Miller, who had 2 TD catches in the first preseason game after missing the past two seasons with a series of injuries, was carted off late in the second quarter with a foot injury.

Coach Marc Trestman said he would have more information on the injuries Friday afternoon.

Sitting it out:

Bears who did not dress Thursday night, included defensive end Willie Young (knee bruise), tight end Dante Rosario (calf), offensive linemen Jordan Mills (left foot), Eben Britton (hamstring) and Brian de la Puente (sprained knee) wide receivers Chris Williams (hamstring) and Marquess Wilson (fractured clavicle), safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz and cornerback Isaiah Frey (hamstring).

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.