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Bears' Jennings earns recognition

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LAKE FOREST – Bears cornerback Tim Jennings always has played with confidence.

Now, Jennings has a league-wide honor to go along with that confidence.

Jennings, 28, was named as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month on Thursday. He leads the NFL with four interceptions in four games after picking off seven passes in his first six seasons in the league.

“I always felt I was a good player,” Jennings said. “I’m just making more plays this year. I think that’s the key and one of the focuses I had coming into this year.

“I never doubted my athletic ability. I just wanted to work on making plays and making the best of my opportunities.”

In addition to his career-high four interceptions, Jennings has registered 18 tackles, six pass break-ups and one tackle for a loss. In part because of his efforts, the Bears lead the NFL in takeaways (14) entering Week 5.

Bears coach Lovie Smith praised Jennings for his recognition by the league.

“He’s been playing outstanding football,” Smith said. “To be acknowledged that way for his first quarter of play, [it’s] well deserved, I’ll just say that.

“He’s been playing as well as any of the corners out there, as you look at it. Of course, he has four interceptions, but he’s had a part in a couple of others for us. Well-deserved honor.”

Whatever works: Brian Urlacher offered a blunt assessment of Smith’s traditional cover-2 defense when asked about stopping the run.

“It’s not fun, but cover-2 works,” Urlacher said. “I’ve said it every year. It’s not my favorite thing, but it works, man.”

Why wasn’t the cover-2 a favorite of Urlacher’s?

“I’m not involved,” Urlacher said. “I’m being selfish, but unless they attack the middle of the field, I’m not really involved in the play. Unless they throw check-downs, I don’t really get to blitz, so it’s run through the middle and hope something happens.

“I’m really good at congratulating people, though, on cover-2. I’m the No. 1 high-fiver when somebody makes a play. I’m leading the team in that.”

Still waiting: Devin Hester has yet to score on a punt or kickoff return this season, but Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said a big return could be imminent.

“We just got to keep plugging away,” Toub said. “We’re real close, when you look at the tape. We’re one guy away or one tripped-up foot tackle away from getting some really big returns.”

Bears bits: Julius Peppers (ankle), Brian Urlacher (coach’s decision) and Evan Rodriguez (knee) did not practice Thursday. … Before Jennings, the most recent Bears player to win defensive player of the month honors was Julius Peppers in November 2011.

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