The first eight months of the 2022 calendar year have been wild for Teven Jenkins.
He began the year with a projection to be the team’s starting left tackle in January. Fast forward to June, and Jenkins was sliding down the depth chart and landing as a backup right tackle. Moving along into July, and there were questions about Jenkins’ future with the team. This was the stuff you’d expect out of a choose your own adventure book. But if you purposefully chose the most random and chaotic paths.
As it turns out, all roads eventually led to Jenkins making his first-ever start at right guard during the Bears’ preseason win against the Seahawks on Thursday night. Early reviews are mostly positive. CHGO’s Adam Hogue tweets Jenkins wasn’t perfect, but still liked what he was seeing from the first-timer at a new position. Will DeWitt, Hope’s CHGO teammate, described Jenkins as solid in his assessment on Twitter. NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock echoed Hoge’s sentiments, chiming into say he also liked what he saw from Jenkins (despite noting some issues in pass protection). Windy City Gridiron’s Jacob Infante opined Jenkins was “really holding his own” at the position.
As for Jenkins’ own assessment, I’d call it fair, honest, and humbling:
“I feel like I did good,” Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago after Thursday’s game. “It’s just, overall, I have some good things, bad things to clean up, and that might be because of my adjustment period going to guard. … I need to ramp up my process to go from tackle to guard.”
In grading one’s self, self-awareness is important. And Jenkins seems to have that going for him. That Jenkins’ self-grading matches what objective observers are saying makes me feel good about my own thoughts about how Jenkins’ debut at guard went. I thought Jenkins was looking fine during his handful of series. The run blocking looked like I thought it would, especially when thinking about the mauler descriptions he was getting during the pre-draft process in 2021. Pass-blocking clearly needs work. And I imagine those issues are among reasons the team’s decision-makers have been moving him off the island of being a tackle to playing in a phone booth as a guard.
Ultimately, this is the type of performance you’d want to have seen from Jenkins. Good enough in moments where coaches can use positive reinforcement in building a player’s confidence at a new position. But enough moments where the struggle was real, allowing coaches to push harder to clean up prevalent issues. In the end, the most important thing is that Jenkins himself is seeing both sides. That should be enough of a motivating factor to get him in gear.
All in all, my interest in Jenkins being the Bears’ starting right guard continues to grow. This is a player with size and skill, prospect pedigree, motivation after changing positions, and is playing with a sense of urgency. And I’m into it. With each passing day, the Jenkins situation reminds me more of Kyle Fuller’s career arc with the Bears. Fuller went from hot-shot first-round cornerback, to having his desire to play football questioned by a new coaching regime and being on the cusp of being cut before turning his career around, breaking through after some tough love, and putting together a solid career. Jenkins still has a ways to go before he reaches the same heights Fuller did while at corner. But he appears to be taking the first steps on that path. And it’s an interesting one we’ll follow moving forward.