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Amid contract talks, free agent cornerback Tim Jennings visits Bucs

Tim Jennings led the NFL in interceptions in 2012, picking off nine for the Bears; here he returns a fumble against the Bucs.
Tim Jennings led the NFL in interceptions in 2012, picking off nine for the Bears; here he returns a fumble against the Bucs.
Published Sep. 2, 2015

TAMPA — Two-time Pro Bowl CB Tim Jennings visited the Bucs on Tuesday and could be reunited with coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Jennings watched practice with Smith as the Bucs tried to reach a contract agreement with his agent. There was no announcement Tuesday night.

Jennings, 31, was released Sunday by the Bears, where he had played under Smith. He was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2006, playing for Frazier who was the team's defensive backs/assistant head coach. Jennings enjoyed his first four seasons with the Colts but blossomed with the Bears, recording 16 of his 20 career interceptions in five seasons.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings had a league-high nine interceptions in 2012, earning a spot on his first of two consecutive Pro Bowl teams.

"I was in Indianapolis when we drafted Tim and we had a lot of discussions about Tim prior to the draft and I was so happy when (GM) Bill Polian and the rest of our staff decided he was the guy we were going to choose," Frazier said of Jennings. "I have a lot of history with him, a lot of respect for his game and I've told him a bunch of times after our games against Chicago how proud I was to see his maturation as a player. So I have a lot of respect for him, and for him to go on and become a Pro Bowl corner — everything we thought he might become when we drafted him. His savvy, his ball skills, his toughness, his familiarity with this defense, all would be pluses for us here."

Jennings is bound to have other suitors, but the fact he began his visits in Tampa Bay could be a good sign for the Bucs.

ROSTER CUTS: To get to the NFL's roster limit of 75 players, the Bucs waived three injured players — nickel CB Leonard Johnson, WR Robert Herron and C Josh Allen — and placed injured DT Akeem Spence on the reserve-physically unable to perform list.

Spence, who had back surgery in July and is targeting an October return, cannot practice or play until after the sixth week of the regular season, when he can return from the PUP list.

Johnson, who graduated from Largo High, was the primary nickel defensive back last year, but was on the roster bubble before he injured his left foot, which was in a cast at Monday's practice.

Herron, the team's sixth-round pick last year, tweaked a hamstring Saturday in warmups. He didn't catch a pass in the final 10 games of his rookie year and had only two catches in preseason. Allen opened camp as the No. 2 center, but hasn't practiced since Aug. 6 with an ankle injury.

THIS AND THAT: Rookie LT Donovan Smith (ankle) missed practice for the second day in a row with a boot on his right foot. S Bradley McDougald was out with an undisclosed injury. … Rookie WR Kenny Bell (hamstring) missed Saturday's game and said before Tuesday's practice that he wanted to test himself at practice, wanting to play Thursday to help his chances at making the team. Smith said not so fast: "Kenny hurt his hamstring when? Friday? He wants to test it now. Not going to happen," Smith said. "You don't come back from hamstring injuries that quick. It's good he wants to do that. I'm sure the pain is gone, but he's not quite ready yet."

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Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman and @NFLstroud.

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