Colts Jennings to Start at Cornerback Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – If it had to happen, Tim Jennings said the time is right.
Jennings, a third-year cornerback for the Colts, said no way did he want to move into the starting lineup under these circumstances – because of injury to starter Kelvin Hayden – but he said whatever the reason he is starting he does know this much:
He never has been more ready for the opunity.
"I wanted to start sooner than this year," Jennings said Friday as the Colts (2-2) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) in an AFC game at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I wasn't ready last year and the year before that, but this year I feel like I'm more ready and looking forward to the challenge. . . . You hate for one of your guys to go down with an injury like that, but it's an opportunity just to pick up the slack."
Jennings, the Colts' second-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, has started four times in the NFL, with all four starts coming last season. In those starts, he was playing the third cornerback, or "nickelback," position because the opponent opened in a passing formation.
On Sunday, he will start opposite corner Marlin Jackson in place of Hayden, a starter in the Colts' last 20 games who sustained a knee injury against Houston this past Sunday.
Jennings, who played collegiately at Georgia, missed time each of the last two seasons with injuries, playing 11 games each season. He defended seven passes last season while playing extensively as the third cornerback.
"I didn't feel like I was as ready as I am this year to get the start," Jennings said. "Body-wise, my knee isn't bothering me and I was still bothered by an ankle. All of that's kind of behind me, so it's kind of perfect that it's this year and not last year or my rookie year. . . .
"I'm getting better every year since my rookie year. I'm looking forward to my first start, and going out there and making some plays."
Also on Friday, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Hayden, wide receiver Roy Hall and safety Bob Sanders likely will be the only active players not available Sunday.
"I think we're going to be pretty well OK," Dungy said. "For the most part, we should be in pretty good shape."
The Colts on Friday released their third injury report of the week, with Hall (knee), Hayden and Sanders ruled out and defensive end Dwight Freeney (hamstring), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (concussion), cornerback Marlin Jackson (ankle), guard Jamey Richard (shoulder) and linebacker Clint Session (calf) listed as questionable.
Freeney, Gonzalez, Jackson, Richard and Session were all listed as fully participating in practice Friday.
"We're putting the finishing touches on things," Dungy said Friday morning. "I thought (Thursday's) practice was sharper, faster, crisper – more like we need – and it's going to be a big challenge. There are a lot of things we have to work on, because they (the Ravens) do so many things, especially on defense, but overall, we've had a good week and should be ready to go."