If there weren’t concerns in nearly all areas of the Bears secondary before this, there should be now. Breakdowns occurred in nearly all segments of a secondary that entered the third preseason game with multiple positions still in flux – meaning no one has played well enough to claim the starting jobs, and some could be in increased jeopardy with first cuts coming no later than Tuesday.
“We’re trying to pick a 53-man roster,” said coach John Fox. “You have to look at guys in the preseason to figure that out.”
So far the Bears have not figured it out.
Tim Jennings, a Pro Bowl cornerback with nine interceptions in 14 games as recently as 2012, with 32 consecutive starts since then, was not only out of the starting lineup on Saturday vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, but also not part of any package initially, renewing questions about his future in Chicago after a 2014 season with zero interceptions.
Jennings was replaced by Alan Ball with the No. 1 defense, and when the Bears went with three cornerbacks, Sherrick McManis was the addition, not Jennings. Jennings was turned around and lost the ball and the receiver on a 15-yard completion to A.J. Green in the second quarter. Jennings was among a cluster of defenders beaten for a 31-yard TD pass to Marvin Jones, but Jennings was simply one of a crowd of Bears failing to make the play.
Terrance Mitchell, with an interception in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, was given some playing with the No. 1 defense, stayed on into the fourth quarter and was credited with a forced fumble and recovery in the fourth period.
Antrel Rolle was late on several assignments resulting in sizeable gains in the first half. He failed to come up in run support on a 26-yard run by Jeremy Hill in the second quarter.
Brock Vereen was late breaking up and missed a one-on-tackle of running back Jeremy Hill late in the first half after Rolle crashed down inside on the play and forced Hill to bounce outside.
Veteran Tracy Porter, also getting increased play at cornerback, was spared the embarrassment of being beaten for a deep completion in the second quarter when a holding call on the Cincinnati offensive line nullified the play.