I had mixed feelings when seeing news cross the wires of Teven Jenkins practicing with the second-team offense during OTAs.
Because, on the one hand, it was easy to see this move as a motivational tool. The Bears have been up front about putting the best five linemen on the field, no matter the position, and no matter a player’s pedigree. Nothing like the humbling experience of second-team reps to light a fire under a second-year player with a strong prospect background. And for what it’s worth, we saw it put some things in perspective for Jaylon Johnson not too long ago. Perspective is good, my friends.
But on the other hand, Jenkins taking second-unit reps at right tackle was the latest slide down the O-line spectrum. And that stuck with me while hashing out details of the move. Remember, Jenkins went from ending the 2021 season as Chicago’s left tackle of the future, to moving over to first-string right tackle, and ultimately wrapping up last week’s minicamp as RT2. These aren’t inconsequential slides. And it certainly feels as if the new regime is trying to send a message with how it has been rolling out its lines. Whether it is a motivating tactic or an inkling that this group isn’t as high on Jenkins as the previous one is irrelevant. Something feels amiss. And that it continues has my full attention.
Shaw Media’s Sean Hammond shared the Bears’ first-team offensive line from Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice, and Jenkins was nowhere to be seen:
But for what it’s worth, Head Coach Matt Eberflus remains open to a world of different possibilities:
That’s … good news for Jenkins (and Larry Borom, too, I suppose) that Eberflus is open to mix things up. Maybe Jenkins’ future isn’t at either tackle spot. Instead, perhaps Jenkins is best suited to play guard. That isn’t inconceivable. The NFL history books is full of tackle prospects who don’t pan out at one of the bookend positions, but eventually thrive inside. Heck, Bears fans should know one notable example with Kyle Long moving from right tackle to right guard. Granted, Long performed admirably at right tackle when that was his main position. But his best work came when he was (1) healthy and (2) playing right guard.
If we were doing stock watch, I’d have Braxton Jones’ stock looking like this (📈), while Teven Jenkins’ stock would look something like this (📉). And even though it is impossible to project starting lineups in June (and well before we even start seeing these players with pads), the trend is what it is right now. Jones, a Day 3 pick with tools and size who was hand-picked by this regime, appears to be trending in the right direction. Meanwhile, Jenkins – chosen by a GM and coach who are no longer in Chicago – looks to be going the other way. This doesn’t mean things can’t change in the 88 days between now and when the season kicks off. But it is something to be cognizant of as we move along this offseason.