Not to be lost in Justin Fields taking a backseat to Andy Dalton and Roquan Smith being a game-time decision, the Chicago Bears are set to make a roster move with potentially significant ramifications.
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy told reporters the team is activating rookie offensive lineman Teven Jenkins will on Saturday.
This is quite the development.
Nagy didn’t offer up any details about how much he would play or how he would deploy the rookie. But that almost feels irrelevant, especially when considering how much of a long shot it felt like it would be to get to this point.
Jenkins, the Bears’ second-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, has yet to make his NFL debut because of an injury that ultimately led to him having back surgery in August. But despite being unable to practice at the start of training camp representing an inauspicious start to his Bears career, Jenkins has been climbing his way back into the thick of things. It began with an appearance at practice and running sprints at Halas Hall. But more recently, Jenkins has been participating in pre-game drills before each of the teams last three games. Jenkins’ recent work made this an important week for him, his development, and the Bears. That the team is bringing him off the physically unable to perform list is a significant step, to say the least.
Of course, activating Jenkins from the PUP list is just the first domino that will fall. A variety of questions need answers.
Will Jenkins start? If so, where? Remember, Jenkins was taking practice reps at right *AND* left tackle. If the plan is to slow-play Jenkins’ development, is there a chance he starts by year’s end? And if that is a possibility, what does the starting line look like? Let’s assume Jenkins isn’t getting thrown into an immediate starting role. Is there another way to get game experience? Are there packages for Jenkins to get some valuable in-game reps? We’ve seen the Bears use extra offensive linemen in heavy packages. Think Alex Bars getting 17 snaps as a tight end in Chicago’s Week 5 win against the Raiders.
That we’re even asking these questions in the first place is awesome. Getting to a point where Jenkins is re-joining the active roster is awesome. And it obviously should feel great for Jenkins, too. Getting to a place where he can contribute after missing training camp and the preseason with an injury — and despite undergoing back surgery — is a major accomplishment. It is a testament to Jenkins’ work, doctors, and the Bears’ medical staff.
Soon, it will be on Jenkins to take another leap by showing why Chicago made the move to trade up and draft him last spring. So, here’s to the next step.
For more from Coach Nagy, check out the video below: