Tim Jennings is likely out for Sunday's game in Minnesota and starting in his place will be veteran corner Kelvin Hayden. Jennings' shoulder injury is not considered to be serious, and could keep him out for one or two games. Jennings has eight interceptions on the season and is tied for the lead with 19 pass breakups on the season.
While Hayden is a tested corner, he has been struggling as of late. Hayden has looked like he may be past his prime being frequently burned in coverage. Against the 49ers Hayden was burned for a big gainer by slot receiver Kyle Williams. Hayden replicated that moment in the Seahawks game again getting burned for a big play.
In the 49ers game Hayden was covering Williams in the Bears' base Cover-2 scheme, playing a little off compared to Jennings and Tillman who were up in press coverage.
The safeties are aligned 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, Urlacher bites on the play action giving the TE a free release down the middle of the field and pulling off the safety in coverage. Hayden doesn't press or bump Williams off the line, instead he gives him a free release and Williams runs right by him for the 57 yard gain.
As the photos indicate, Hayden hasn't been very physical in the nickel role, he's failed to utilize his size advantage being at 6-foot tall to press.
This is the type of struggles I've seen out of Hayden all season and why it's been so curious that D.J. Moore has been benched and inactive as a result.
To put it simply Hayden was likely headed for the bench after his recent performances and is now headed for the starting lineup. The question is can Hayden step up and be the man in this game, and perhaps the game against the Packers?
Working to his advantage is the fact that the Vikings have placed Percy Harvin on IR and don't have any real big time play makers elsewhere on the depth chart. Hayden gets a break this week, and he needs to make sure he locks down the player across from him.
If Hayden has success against the Vikings hopefully Tim Jennings can return healthy at home against the Packers the following week. The bottom line is while Hayden improved the depth, there is no reason to believe is ready to return to a starting role.