Poles shuts down Jenkins trade talk: 'Good for' Bears at RG originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – Teven Jenkins has been through the wringer over the past month.
Even after making the initial 53-man roster Tuesday, the 24-year-old offensive lineman admitted he didn't feel he had any clarity about his future with the Bears. Jenkins has been bounced from right tackle to right guard while having his name in several trade rumors throughout August. The Oklahoma State product has been open and honest about how unhappy the situation has made him.
Two weeks ago, Jenkins made the switch from tackle to guard. He has quickly picked up the interior responsibilities and already appears to have the starting job locked up. However, despite his quick success, Jenkins said he wasn't going to count out the possibility that he still could be traded before Week 1.
General manager Ryan Poles closed the door on that Thursday.
"No," Poles said when asked if Jenkins should be worried about being traded. "I had a good conversation with him, and I told him how proud I was of him. Again, I think it's about building the best five. I think we have a good five with him at guard. So, I think it's good for us to have Teven at guard right now."
The Bears' offensive line has been a constantly shifting group going back to OTAs.
When Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus arrived, they spoke with Jenkins and told him he would play right tackle, his preferred position. But late in OTAs, Jenkins was bumped to the second team as rookie Braxton Jones ascended to first-team left tackle, moving Larry Borom to the right side.
"I gotta get better myself, and work on my stuff," Jenkins said in August about his reaction to being moved to the second team.
Jenkins suffered an injury early in training camp and missed a week of practice. Even with Jenkins absent from critical time on task, the Bears were adamant he would still be in the tackle competition when he returned.
That wasn't really the case.
Jenkins worked with the second and third teams after coming back from his minor injury. Despite being healthy, it looked like his roster spot was in jeopardy.
Then came a phone call from offensive line coach Chris Morgan and the switch to right guard.
To Poles, a former offensive lineman, moving Jenkins from guard to tackle was more about the Bears' options on the offensive line than a referendum on Jenkins' talent.
"We probably look at that as more of a holistic thing, more than anything," Poles said. "It's, how can we make the best five? We did a lot of shuffling around. Everyone was aware of that. When we got to this point, and he was in at guard, I thought some good things happened on the field in some of the games. I'm happy for him. Again, that's part of that change I talked about that's difficult. Guys got shuffled around and moved up front, in the back, and we are trying to find our best five.
"The way we got to that Cleveland game, we felt pretty good about it. I'm really happy for him and the progress he's made. He's settling in well and I think he's gonna help us there."
With the San Francisco 49ers coming to town in 10 days, the Bears' offensive line appears set, with center Lucas Patrick's status to be determined as he rehabs a thumb injury.
Jenkins is now an essential piece of a puzzle the Bears have worked all offseason to complete.
Five months ago, the Bears' right guard competition looked to be between Dakota Dozier, Sam Mustipher, and perhaps rookie Zachary Thomas.
Dozier suffered a season-ending injury in minicamp, Thomas was waived Wednesday, and Mustipher has had to shift over to center with Patrick out.
The Bears brought in veteran Michael Schofield, but he proved ineffective when working with the ones, which opened the door for Jenkins.
Staring down the prospect of an early-career trip to purgatory, Jenkins seized the opportunity given to him by Morgan and Eberflus. His intelligence and physicality make him a good fit at guard, and Jenkins has done everything in his power to accelerate his development on the interior.
Faced with the less-than-ideal circumstance, Jenkins battened down the hatches and went to work to save his career from going off track. He didn't pout, didn't demand a trade. He just showed up every day, went to work, and did whatever he could to better his situation and help the Bears.
"Resilience, right?" assistant general manager Ian Cunningham said of Jenkins. "He had an up and down early part of his career, just with the back injury, coming from Oklahoma State, getting in here and then early in training camp this year, another injury. And then for him to come in and then play guard, a position that he wasn't as familiar with, it's just a testament to the kid and his resilience and his work ethic. Couldn't be more proud of him."
That attitude and hard work appear to have paid off as the Bears found the starting right guard they desperately needed in an unlikely place.
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