What we learned as Jenkins gets his chance with first team at RG originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – Right guard likely is Teven Jenkins' best chance at cracking the Bears' starting offensive line for Week 1.
Jenkins got his first reps at right guard Monday during a light practice, and the Bears threw him in the deep end Tuesday as he worked as the first-team right guard, with Michael Schofield moving to the second team.
"He's been doing everything we've asked, and we're going to always try to find our five best offensive linemen," offensive line coach Chris Morgan said Tuesday. "We're always going to try to put our five best players on the field. We're going to take a look at that. We're excited about it, and we'll see where we go."
Jenkins acquitted himself well in his first real reps at right guard. He held up in pass protection and had a big block to spring fullback Khari Blasingame for a touchdown in one of the later team periods.
Transitioning inside can be a process. However, the Bears believe Jenkins has the football IQ to absorb the information quickly and perhaps become their long-term answer at right guard.
Veteran left guard Cody Whitehair is acting as a second coach and sounding board for Jenkins as he swings inside.
"I think the biggest thing is just moving inside from tackle to guard is everything happens a little bit faster in there, I guess if you will," Whitehair said. "So just helping him play with his hands and get his footwork down and stuff like that, which comes in individual and stuff like that. But also helping him learn tips and stuff on what to look for inside guys, his stances and how to get that edge over those guys as well."
The Bears' offense puts a lot of mental stress on the guards, asking them to use their eyes a lot to identify blitzes and be right when getting to the second level. Jenkins' cognitive processing is one of the strengths of his game, and Whitehair is confident the 24-year-old can handle everything thrown at him.
"You see the way he studies," Whitehair said. "You know, the way he answers questions is very detailed. When a coach asks him a question, he answers it to the most detailed version that he can answer. And you know I think it speaks to him athletically too. You know and like I talked about, it's the guard's responsibility to obviously secure the first level but then, sustain a block at the second level. And he's athletic enough to do that. So, I think that's a tribute to him."
With the right side of the Bears' line struggling in the preseason opener, the decision to give Jenkins a shot at right guard in place of Schofield makes a lot of sense.
Head coach Matt Eberflus said moving Jenkins inside is just another offensive line shuffle as the Bears look to try out as many combinations as possible. He has been impressed with Jenkins' ability to transition so far and doesn't plan to put expectations on how good Jenkins can be at guard if that's where he sticks.
"Teven's smart," Eberflus said. "He's very smart. Very athletic player. And like one of my mentors said this and I believe this, and he engrained into my mind is that you never put a ceiling on a player. So, you'll always have to watch out that as a coach. You don't put a ceiling on him. Let him grow. Let him do his thing because some people mature and grow at different times. And all of a sudden, they just grow into a player, they grow into a really good NFL player. And that's for any position. We're never going to put ceilings on guys. We're always going to think the best for every player. The sky's the limit for you, and we're coaching every single player on the roster that way."
Here are more notes from Day 16 of camp:
-- Both Jenkins and Borom have an opportunity Thursday. With Schofield struggling and Reiff likely not playing, Jenkings and Borom will have a chance to shine on the right side of the Bears' offensive line against the Seahawks.
-- The Bears' first-team offense struggled once again Tuesday. The passing game mainly involved check downs and scrambles as the offensive line continues to give up quick pressure.
-- In other offensive line news, Larry Borom got first-team reps at right tackle Tuesday. Riley Reiff was present and suited up, but it appears the veteran won't play Thursday.
-- Rookie center Doug Kramer has a lower-leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.
-- Jaquan Brisker was a non-participant for the second consecutive day of practice. He is deemed "day-to-day."
-- Justin Jones returned to practice Tuesday after being a non-participant Monday.
-- Eberflus had no update on Roquan Smith's contract talks. The Bears head coach said the linebacker has been "engaged" in meetings and will travel to Seattle with the team Wednesday. Eberflus declined to say whether or not the Bears have fined Smith for his refusal to practice, but NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported that the Bears have not disciplined Smith.
-- In a pre-practice conversation with the offensive assistant coaches, quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said Eberflus has been beneficial in offensive meetings, helping them see things differently.
"He's fantastic," Janocko said. "Obviously, you don't get to a position like this without knowing a lot of football and knowing people. The one thing that's fantastic about 'Flus is that he connects with guys. He comes in, and he loves to be with the guys. He's a football guy. He likes to be with the guys in the meeting. We might be joking around, and then, bang, there comes this tidbit out of nowhere that you're like, 'holy cow, I've never thought about it like that from an offensive perspective.'
"He can bring a, 'yeah, this what we're seeing in coverage, this is what we see from you. When you do this, this is what we're expecting.' He just brings things out of nowhere that you're not expecting that helps our knowledge base."
-- Eberflus said starters will play somewhere between six to 10 snaps Thursday in Seattle. Most of the Bears' young players will get a ton of reps at Lumen Field.
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