During the 2012 season the Chicago Bears struggled mightily at finding a player capable of lining up in the slot and shutting down teams' third wide receiver. D.J. Moore struggled and was benched, Kelvin Hayden played in the position throughout most of the season and was simply awful. D.J. Moore is no longer with the team after being the Bears' best slot cover corner over the last few seasons. Now the Bears essentially do no have a small speedy tough corner who can line up and cover those dynamic slot receivers, or do they?
Throughout most of OTAs and mini-camp the Bears tried something new with Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings, they lined him up as the slot CB. While Jennings played by far his best season on the outside and has only gotten better each year he has lined up on the outside, he is a perfect candidate to play in the slot.
Jennings is a 5-foot-9 181-pound corner who may be the best defender on the field pound-for-pound. He's known for being able to come up and defend the run and he is physical in press coverage. Where most slot receivers are that type of player on offense that Jennings is on defense. Small, shifty and tough the only player that has shown some promise in the slot is second year CB Isaiah Frey.
Frey has significantly stepped up his game from last year and has proven that he's a willing worker who may challenge for a roster spot this year. Working to his advantage is how the Bears are balancing out the roster between boundary corners and slot corners and how his talents are best suited to play slot.
Jennings did not look the least bit out of place in the slot and it was a position he took a lot of reps at during mini-camp. You can tell that it's more than simple experimentation with Jennings. He's playing in a new spot that he could continue to excel at, plus it gives other players who are not ideally suited for the slot more reps on the outside where they may be more comfortable.
For players to better compete for a roster spot they deserve to get as many reps as possible, but at the same time you don't want to sacrifice practice time for the two incumbents. This is a very smart way of getting the three best CBs on the field at the same time and letting the weaker link develop into a better player in the process.