Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins returned to practice on Saturday after dealing with an undisclosed injury that forced him to miss seven straight practices. Jenkins only participated in individual drills as he’s in the middle of his ramp-up period.
Despite Jenkins missing time, head coach Matt Eberflus said he’s remained involved during meetings and that he’s in competition for a starting job on the offensive line. Eberflus had a message for Jenkins upon his return.
“Really, the same as everybody: ‘Go out there and compete. Everything’s open. Dive in,'” Eberflus said. “Like we’ve said, he’s been great in meetings. He’s been very attentive. He’s been paying attention. He’s been back up at the walk-throughs looking at the plays and understanding his role and the plays. So he’s been good.”
Jenkins got a look at swing tackle on the first day of training camp, and he said he’d be open to switching to guard. Whatever it takes.
“I’m willing to play wherever they want me,” Jenkins said. “I want to be here in Chicago so I’m playing wherever they need me to play.”
But when looking at how the offensive line situation has panned out so far, it’s hard to imagine Jenkins winning a starting role.
Rookie Braxton Jones, who’s day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, has emerged as the favorite to start at left tackle. Meanwhile, veteran Riley Reiff has been settling in at right tackle, where he’s been rotating with Larry Borom. So tackle doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Jenkins.
But what about right guard? Michael Schofield and Ja’Tyre Carter have been splitting reps there as Sam Mustipher sees time at center with Lucas Patrick out indefinitely with a right hand injury. But assuming Patrick returns in time for the regular season, Mustipher could factor into the equation.
Jenkins faces an uphill battle to earn a starting job, but he’ll have opportunities to impress in camp and preseason. As trade rumors swirl, Jenkins still believes he’ll be on the roster come Week 1.
“Do I expect to be here in the regular season? Yeah,” he said.