The Chicago Bears are starting their return from the bye week as the bearers of good news.
Some key players are returning to the practice field at a most opportune time:
Coach Nagy announced that Teven Jenkins & Deon Bush will return to practice today, opening a 21-day window for their activation from IR.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 15, 2021
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy announced offensive lineman Teven Jenkins and safety Deon Bush are practicing today. This opens a 21-day practice and evaluation window for each player. Moreover, it could eventually lead to each’s return from injured reserve. And with all due respect to Bush, a solid safety and remarkable special teams contributor, news of Jenkins’ return to the practice field is eye-opening.
The Bears traded up to take Jenkins in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Selecting Jenkins kicked off a run of linemen going off the board. And while it looked heady at the time, because no one likes being at the end of a positional run on draft day, a back issue in training camp kept Jenkins out of practice, and ultimately, led to back surgery in August. There weren’t many (if any) updates regarding Jenkins’ health or status until fellow offensive lineman Jason Peters came through in late October. In a candid press availability session, Peters hinted at Jenkins’ progress, adding “I think he’s coming in a few more weeks. Slow progression.”
Twenty days later, Jenkins is set to return to practice. And the Bears should be overjoyed.
The arrow has been pointing up for Jenkins. He was spotted in the wild at practice in late October, seen running sprints on a hill at practice, and reporters caught a glimpse of him doing on-field workouts before the Bears’ loss on MNF to the Steelers. With that being said, opening the 21-day practice window was a logical next step.
For what it’s worth, the offensive line has been trending better lately — and that is good news on multiple levels. Firstly, because it is helping Justin Fields develop as a quarterback. But also, the line showing progress means the Bears don’t have to rush Jenkins into the lineup. Let’s not lose sight of how important that can be for the team, as well as Jenkins’ development. This team had high hopes for Jenkins, who had the inside track to be the team’s starting left tackle before his back issues put him on the sidelines. Opening this 21-day practice window should give the team ample time to properly evaluate Jenkins. Find out what he can absorb, see what he can do, and figure out where he fits moving forward. And – if everything checks out – get him into the lineup before the year ends.
Chicago doesn’t need to thrust Jenkins into the lineup ahead of schedule. But that we’re even discussing Jenkins’ return in the first place feels like a big win in what has sometimes felt like a lost season.