On a day that began with a feeling that finding good news would be like unearthing a needle from a haystack, I’m pleased to share a positive development.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport, who is reporting from Chicago, shares that Bears left tackle Teven Jenkins underwent successful back surgery. And in this video snippet, takes some time to explain what that news means:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 18, 2021
Being embedded in Chicago and having access to GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy allows Rapoport to provide some additional context and perspective that comes with equal parts fortunate timing and proximity. Firstly, the background information on Jenkins’ back issues being something the team knew about in the pre-draft process. Secondly, it’s also important to underscore that these back issues aren’t necessarily what came up before the draft. And thirdly, the belief that surgery now will “solve this issue completely.”
All in all, this is a positive development on the Jenkins front. And I’ll take it after a day like today.
As for the short-term ramifications, they begin with Jenkins being out indefinitely and 39-year-old nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters being in line to take over to hold it down. But there is some hedging here from Rapoport. Again, it is worth noting because Rapoport is (1) reporting from Chicago and (2) notes how he has spoken with Nagy and Pace about this situation.
In other words, Rapoport offering rookie Larry Borom and free agent Elijah Wilkinson as options isn’t throw-away commentary. Don’t get me wrong. Things are likely lining up for Peters to start at left tackle. And that is the most sensible course of action. But it is tough to listen to Rapoport and not come away feeling as if the team likes Borom as an option. Especially with Rapoport mentioning how Borom came in 40 pounds below his playing weight at Missouri. Maybe this front office and coaching staff views Borom as a sleeper long-term candidate at the position. That could be valuable if Jenkins can’t give it a full go as soon as the team expects.
Rapoport doesn’t share a flowery anecdote about Wilkinson. But perhaps putting it out there that he is a possibility to start is something that now keeps two depth options hungry for more. I wouldn’t describe this as inconsequential, mind you. There is always value in dangling the carrot.
Having options is good. Publicly sharing faith in internal depth options (and getting them reps) could turn out to be good, too. Because it would be nice to have worthwhile fallback options just in case things not turn out well with Peters. Remember, the 39-year-old hasn’t played a full 16-game since 2018. So asking for a full 17-game campaign from a player who hasn’t been participating in organized team football activities this summer feels big. And even if things go swimmingly with Peters, we’re still unsure of Germain Ifedi’s status. Chicago’s starting right tackle remains on the PUP List with a hip flexor injury.
In the end, the Bears are in an unenviable situation. But I guess things could be much worse.