The resurrection of Teven Jenkins’ career has been the feel-good story of the Bears’ training camp.
After being demoted from the starting left tackle to the second- and third-string right tackle, the 2021 second-round draft pick has emerged as the front-runner at right guard — 11 days after first moving to guard as the back-up on Aug. 15. He didn’t even find out about the move until coaches told him the night before.
Jenkins has his final audition Saturday in the Bears’ preseason finale against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. He’ll still have to prove himself in the regular season if he wins the job. But he knows it’s his job to lose Saturday night.
“It’s been like a rollercoaster and a mix of emotions for me,” Jenkins said. “Going from two right tackle, three right tackle to second right guard and I’m starting right now — it’s a lot about season opportunity. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to doing this weekend. Just keep being physical. No [missed assignments]. Don’t mess up and just trust myself.”
Position changes for a highly drafted player like Jenkins often are a last resort. But Jenkins looks and sounds like a player who has found a new home.
“[I’m] a lot more comfortable than when I started,” Jenkins said, “because I actually had more reps under my belt and Im starting to learn all the tendencies, all the consistency I need to have to be a guard instead of a tackle.”
Playing guard is a pretty big transition for a tackle. But Jenkins seems well-suited for it.
“Physicality,” he said. “It’s like you have a dude right there, right now instead of all this space. At tackle you have a lot of time to think about what’s going to happen and a lot of space to do whatever technique you’re thinking about. At guard it’s happening a lot quicker — like really fast.”
But he knows the story — feel-good or not — is far from over. He’s just appreciating the opportunity.
“Ultimately, any film is good film,” Jenkins said. “I know [about] the trade rumors and all that stuff. Wherever that may be, I’m trying to get good filmand be the best player I can be for myself. And hopefully right now it’s for the Chicago Bears.”
Wide receivers Velus Jones, Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry did not practice Thursday and are not expected to play against the Browns.
Other players who did not practice were center Lucas Patrick, defensive tackle Angelo Blackson, defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., running back Trestan Ebner and cornerbacks Tavon Young and Thomas Graham.
Time running out?
Pringle, the leading contender for the No. 2 wide receiver role behind Darnell Mooney when camp started, has been out since Aug. 6 with a quadriceps injury. Eberflus remained hopeful Pringle could still be ready for the season opener, but also seemed to know the time is running short.
“The sooner the better,” Eberflus said. “He’s gotta get in there and get the game plan and get ready to go. We’re hopeful he can do that.”