GREEN BAY, Wis. — The day before the Bears activated rookie left Teven Jenkins from injured reserve, coach Matt Nagy was asked what role — if any — the second-round pick would play this year. Nagy’s response: depth. As much as the Bears wanted to get a look at their second-round pick the rest of the season, starting left tackle Jason Peters was playing well.
“You always need as many O-linemen as you can have,” Nagy said.
Nine days later, fate proved Nagy right. While blocking in the first quarter Sunday night at Lambeau Field, Peters had his right ankle rolled up on by Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark, who was being blocked by guard James Daniels. Peters walked to the sideline, and then to the locker room.
Jenkins — who had played exactly two career snaps, both on PATs against the Cardinals — became the Bears’ new left tackle. He figures to stay there, too, so long as the 39-year-old Peters is hampered. And then beyond.
Jenkins’ performance Sunday night, though, was rough. He was flagged for holding Preston Smith in the third quarter but still allowed him to sack Justin Fields, forcing a fumble that gave the Packers the ball. They scored the next play.
He was flagged for two false starts and another holding penalty.
“It’s never easy coming into this league as a rookie at tackle. …” Bears coach Matt Nagy said after the game. “I think he’s gonna have a really really good career. I think his future’s very very bright. You learn from these moments, you really do. He’ll be just fine. He’s gonna rally and he’s gonna do everything he can to get better.”
The Bears plan on building around the Oklahoma State rookie after general manager Ryan Pace traded three picks to the Panthers to move up in the second round and draft him No. 39 overall. The team planned on Jenkins starting the season at left tackle, but he hurt his back during the offseason program and never played a snap of training camp, opting for surgery in August. He returned to practice three weeks ago before being activated for games the day before the Cardinals loss.
Monday, offensive line coach Juan Castillo said the Bears were trying to get Jenkins ready in case of an injury.
“In an emergency thing, if something happened to Jason, right now he would be the one that would come in,” Castillo said. “So we’re trying to catch him up. He hasn’t done a lot of football. We’re working hard trying to get him ready in case something like that happens. “