NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Kelly Jennings #23 and Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals stop quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Tennessee Titans short of a first down during play at LP Field on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bengals won 24-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
With Leon Hall out for the year and Adam Jones, though working towards an eventual return, likely needing a conservative approach (hamstring and groin injuries suffered during one play in a game and practice respectively) before receiving a significant number of snaps. This promotes, at least momentarily, Bengals cornerback Kelly Jennings, who the team acquired in exchange for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald on August 29, 2011.
Against the Broncos, 49ers and the Bills, Jennings first three games with the Bengals this season, the team's newly acquired cornerback played only a combined 29 defensive snaps, easing into the system. But it also prevented Jennings from truly getting into a groove, as he calls it. "I just like getting into a groove, which I feel like I’m starting to do now," said Jennings.
That's understandable. During Cincinnati's previous three games against the Seahawks, Titans and Steelers, Jennings posted a combined 108 defensive snaps, including a season-high 40 against the Steelers.
And during Cincinnati's three most recent games, Jennings is allowing an opposing quarterback rating of 117.2 with receiving hauling in 11 of 16 passes (68.8%) they're targeted.
Of the seven games remaining this year, the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns are the only teams sporting an offense outside of the top-17. Three out of the next four, Cincinnati's defense will take on 11th ranked Baltimore, 7th ranked Pittsburgh and 13th ranked Houston (though Matt Schaub is out of the year).
The Bengals are in the thick of the playoff race this year, needing someone to step into Leon Hall's shoes. Not necessarily as a shutdown corner, but serviceable enough not to be a liability. And we'll take that.