Bears open to all O-line answers to pending Teven Jenkins-Nate Davis conundrum originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears' offensive line has struggled to find consistency all season.
The season opened with guard Teven Jenkins going on injured reserve and missing the first four games with a calf injury. Left tackle Braxton Jones joined him two weeks later with a neck issue and missed six games. Right guard Nate Davis missed time due to a personal matter and suffered an ankle injury in Week 6. He has not played since.
The starting five the Bears planned to trot out this season has not taken a snap together in 2023. But the unit that has taken the field over the past four games has started to gel, and the right side of Jenkins and Darnell Wright has been a force in the run game.
With Jenkins playing at a high level at right guard in Davis' absence, the Bears' staff will face a difficult decision when Davis does return. Do they shift Jenkins back over to left guard and sit Cody Whitehair? Do they shift Jenkins over to left guard, move Whitehair back to center and sit Lucas Patrick? Do they put Davis at left guard and let Jenkins continue to thrive on the right side?
While Davis, who the Bears signed to a three-year, $33 million deal in the offseason, has only played right guard in the NFL, head coach Matt Eberflus believes he has the versatility to change sides if needed. The Bears are leaving all their options open as Davis works his way back from a high-ankle sprain.
"The combinations there are gonna be a discussion that we have to have, for sure," Eberflus said Monday at Halas Hall. "Nate’s a good player. Cody’s a good player. Teven’s a good player. So it’s a good problem to have. We’ll look at it and put our best five out there that we’re gonna put out there for the Lions.
"I see really all three guys being able to flip and play. We’ve just gotta figure out the best combination, who’s next to who and what gives us the best spot.”
Last week, Eberflus said Davis was in "good spirits," and in a good spot in his rehab. The right guard has done some running as he works his way back.
Davis got off to a slow start this season but was playing well before his injury in Week 6.
But Jenkins has been dominant since moving back over to right guard. He was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded offensive lineman in Week 9. He continues to show great physicality and nasty in the run game and has been more consistent in pass protection than he was last season.
“I would say I do feel like I’m in a groove," Jenkins said. "I’m starting to get more comfortable where I’m at and starting to play next to Darnell, so understanding what he wants and what he needs and playing off each other.
"I’m getting my steps down right, hand placement’s good, rolling people off the ball. I’m just moving people A to B. Just stuff that how I want to play (is) showing up."
There's no question that Jenkins and Davis are two of the Bears' best five offensive linemen. When Davis comes back, the Bears just have to decide if that unit is better with a locked-in Jenkins on the right side or a good Jenkins, who is still learning, on the left side.
As Eberflus said, "it's a good problem to have." The answer just has to be the right one.