Free agent CB Kelvin Hayden, formerly with the Indianapolis Colts, visited with the Bears' front office today. He's expected to visit multiple teams this week before deciding which to play for. Most Bears fans remember Hayden for his game-clinching interception in Super Bowl XLI.
Cornerback Charles Tillman welcomed the addition.
"Let the competition begin," he said, "because [then] you've got potentially four starting corners on this team. I think we're all up for the challenge. It brings out the best in all of us. Nobody ever drowned in sweat so let's go."
Tim Jennings, who has a tenuous grasp on the starting cornerback spot opposite Tillman, played with Hayden in Indianapolis. Losing his starting spot would be the least of his worries if the Bears make the roster add.
"I'm not worried about [starting]," he said. "I'm worried about whether I'm going to still be here or not. That's because I know if you bring another starter in, somebody would have to go."
CB Tim Jennings
Obviously Jennings is feeling the heat after a mediocre first week of practice. It's doubtful he would be cut if Hayden were signed but just his visit sends a strong signal from the coaches that they may not feel completely comfortable with Jennings as a starter going forward.
Jennings was a pleasant surprise last year, earning a spot on the first team early in the season after the coaches lost confidence in Zack Bowman. He played well for most of the year, yet was exploited in the NFC Championship game by the Green Bay receiving corps.
Throughout camp, watching Devin Hester fly past Jennings for big passing gains has become an almost-daily occurrence. Additionally, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke has been all over him regarding his positioning in run support. Jennings has a tendency to lock on to the opposing wideout, allowing the back the sideline, which is really unforgivable, as Cover 2 corners must be stout against the run and force the play back inside.
Luckily for him, none of the other corners on the roster have distinguished themselves, yet. Zack Bowman's play so far has been decent, but not great. He's had some bad mental lapses but has shown flashes of big-time playmaking ability. He's No. 3 on the depth chart right now.
Since re-signing with the Bears this past weekend, Corey Graham has looked good on the field, possibly rejuvenated by his new contract. Yet the coaches have been playing him more at nickel as well. If he continues to impress, he may get an opportunity with the first group soon.
Saturday's tilt against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field should give the coaches a much better idea of what they have in these players. Tillman's job is safe but no one other corner is guaranteed a roster spot at this point.
Jennings is right, if Hayden is brought in, someone will have to go. Hayden has good size (6-0, 195) and has played in the Cover 2 system his whole career. The team won't sign him to ride the bench, so if he comes to Chicago, his hometown, everyone but P-Nut will most likely get pushed down the depth chart.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.