(670 The Score) It’s shaping up to be a big week for Bears rookie offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, the No. 39 overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft last spring. He could be promoted to the active roster any day now after having back surgery in August.
In fact, he’ll have to be if he wants to play this season. The 21-day activation window that the 23-year-old Jenkins was allotted when the team took him off injured reserve ends next Monday. If the Bears don't activate him by then, his season will be over. The assumption has always been that Jenkins is the team’s left tackle of the future, but Wednesday afternoon, coach Matt Nagy alluded to the idea that Jenkins may not start there.
“Yeah, as far as the side for Teven, you know, he's obviously a guy that has played both,” Nagy said. “We've got Larry Borom that's doing a great job on the right, you've got Jason Peters, who's done a phenomenal job coming in here. That's something internally that we probably just gotta decide. I know (offensive line coach) Juan (Castillo) has an idea of where he would be at, side-wise. I think it's probably a benefit that he can do both. I don't know if I have an exact answer right now, but as we get into this thing, you're thinking more probably left but, again, he can play both.”
Jenkins primarily played right tackle while at Oklahoma State, but he did come to Chicago with some experience on the left side (482 snaps from 2018-'20). He was equally effective at both spots too – Jenkins didn’t allow a sack (623 pass blocking snaps) in either of his final two college seasons, per Pro Football Focus.
After being held out for long stretches of spring and summer workouts, he underwent back surgery back in August and was put on injured reserve. And while coaches have been encouraged with what they’ve seen in Jenkins' recovery and recent practices, Nagy admitted Wednesday that, at a certain point, only live reps will help Jenkins get back into the clichéd “football shape.”
“You can simulate that with the guys, but at the same point in time, that’s his own situation,” Nagy said. “We’re at a point where when we have to get him up, or when we do get him up, that you’re kind of — the pads are on and you’ve got to go play. He’s been doing it all his life. There’s a little bit of that involved. But at the same point in time, if we feel like we got to throw pads on and let him get some more, then we’ll do that.”
While the Bears certainly won’t complain about having too much depth at tackle, Jenkins’ fit on the line as currently constructed is a fair debate at this point, if nothing else. Peters, 39, has played well most of the time, and while some of the underlying numbers aren’t as bullish on Borom, the Bears have clearly been pleased with what they’ve seen from a rookie who has drawn tough assignment after tough assignment. Also, replacing Peters with Jenkins is probably easier said than done, for more than a couple reasons. Would the Bears really pull a future Hall of Famer -- who has been doing a good job protecting the blindside of a rookie franchise quarterback with broken ribs -- to see what Jenkins can do?
“We would have to get into all that,” Nagy said. “We want to make sure that for both quarterbacks, that both guys are protected on both sides and I think right now our tackles have done a pretty good job at doing that. We had a couple games there where we had a few sacks, but I feel pretty good right now about our offensive line protection-wise. I mean, I even think back to Detroit, like I told you all the other day, they protected really, really well on the edges there. We just want to keep that going, but there's definitely some questions to be answered with Teven there.”
Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.