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This is a *HUGE* Week for Teven Jenkins

Chicago Bears

When the Bears announced they were opening the 21-day practice window for rookie offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, the team also opened a door to one of the rare feel-good stories of what has often felt like a lost season in Chicago.

Let’s be honest. That Jenkins was able to have a practice window after having successful back surgery in August was a pretty big deal. It is a net win that a player, whose rookie year was unable to get off the ground in training camp due to a back injury, is even able to get to this point of the rehabilitation process this season. Much respect to modern medicine and a player’s will to make it to this point.

And to think, the best could till be yet to come.

Before each of the Bears’ last three games, Jenkins has been doing pre-game on-field workouts with the team. And while he isn’t suiting up for games, this is a trend in the right direction. It began in Week 9 before the team’s game in Pittsburgh, and has since kept going:

So … what’s next?

The Bears have until Dec. 6 to decide whether to active Jenkins and put him on the active roster.

Chicago could activate Jenkins and have him eligible to play as soon as Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Should the Bears wait it out until Monday, a full 21 days will have passed since opening Jenkins’ practice window. I imagine that is enough time to evaluate where Jenkins is physically and mentally. If the team activates him at (or before) the 21-day window expires, he will be eligible to play this season. But if they decide not to, then Jenkins will remain on IR for the rest of the year. For what it’s worth, Jenkins has been practicing and building toward a return. There are no guarantees. But things seem to be trending in the right direction.

All that said, Head Coach Matt Nagy might not want to thrust Jenkins into the starting lineup right now. Left tackle Jason Peters has arguably been their best lineman this season. Right tackle Larry Borom is getting important developmental reps of his own while Germain Ifedi is out. But for what it’s worth, a roster spot did open up over the weekend with offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson moving to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Wilkinson’s third trip to the COVID reserve list since training camp came after reportedly testing positive, which could keep him on the sidelines for a bit. And that would make for a convenient time for a return. Even still … I find myself circling back to not wanting to rush him back into the mix.

And at the end of the day, there is no rush to get Jenkins back in the lineup. Not for a season in which FiveThirtyEight’s projections give the team a 2 percent chance at making the playoffs, even if they are just one game behind the team owning the NFC’s final playoff spot.

That isn’t to say getting Jenkins on the field isn’t important. Continuing to build up his strength, allowing him to work on his footwork and technique, getting his nose in the playbook, and keeping him involved and engaged with his teammates has value, too. In the end, making sure Jenkins is in a place where he can make positive strides would mark a significant development at a point in time where player development is a high priority.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.