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Next man up? Bears searching for healthy bodies at OT vs. Vikings’ sack attack

With LT Jason Peters likely out with a high ankle sprain, rookie Teven Jenkins could get his first NFL start — but he missed practice Thursday with an illness. RTs Larry Borom and Elijah Wilkinson are on the COVID-19 list. The good news? RT Germain Ifedi practiced for the first time in 10 weeks.

Bears left tackle Jason Peters (71) is not expected to play against the Vikings on Monday night after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Packers last week.
Bears left tackle Jason Peters (71) is not expected to play against the Vikings on Monday night after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Packers last week.
David Richard/AP

What a mess.

With Jason Peters’ recovering from a high ankle sprain and rookie Larry Borom on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Bears face a precarious situation at offensive tackle heading into Monday night’s game against the -Vikings — who lead the NFL in sacks with 41.

Even the “next-man-up” approach is shrouded in uncertainty:

† Rookie Teven Jenkins, who replaced Peters against the Packers last week, missed the Bears’ walk-through practice Thursday with a non-coronavirus illness.

† Germain Ifedi, who started the first five games of the season at right tackle -before suffering a knee injury, practiced for the first time in 10 weeks Thursday and could be pressed into service at right tackle.

† Swing tackle Elijah Wilkinson, who has played at left and right tackle in a reserve role this season, is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

† Lachavious Simmons, the 2020 seventh-round draft pick who is listed as the second-team right tackle on the Bears’ depth chart, has not played since being benched after 22 snaps as an emergency starter for Wilkinson against the Buccaneers.

† Alex Bars, a 2020 undrafted free agent, hasn’t played more than a token snap or two since replacing Simmons for the final 44 snaps against the Buccaneers.

With Peters expected to miss the Vikings game — though Nagy said he hopes Peters can avoid being put on injured reserve — even the Bears’ best-case scenarios at offensive tackle are shaky: Jenkins, making his first NFL start, at left tackle; and either Borom, an improving rookie, or Ifedi, playing for the first time since Oct. 10, at right tackle.

The Bears might have to get a little inventive offensively against the Vikings. Even with four of their five offensive linemen starting every game — Peters, left guard Cody Whitehair, center Sam Mustipher and right guard James Daniels — the Bears are second in the NFL in sacks allowed. And Daniels missed practice Thursday with a non-coronavirus illness.

Coach Matt Nagy said the Bears have nixed the idea of moving Jenkins to right tackle. Jenkins played 49 snaps at left tackle against the Packers and had four penalties — two holding calls and two false starts. He also gave up a strip-sack of quarterback Justin Fields that led to a turnover.

“That’s not an easy deal to walk into,” Nagy said. “I think he’s going to get better. The plan is to try to keep him at left tackle. It’s not easy to go back and play right tackle, or flip-flop. So we’d love to be able to keep him at left tackle.’’

After the rough debut, Jenkins had a valuable ally in Fields, who made a point to console his fellow rookie following the Packers game.

“I reached out to him because I know he was feeling a little bit down,” Fields said. “Tev wanted to play better than he did, but of course that being his first game, he’s not going to be perfect. So I just told him everything’s going to be fine. I mean, my first start I had one net passing yard [against the Browns]. So . . . I just told him to keep his head [up]. . . . Just keep working and everything was going to get better.”