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Rookie Teven Jenkins on skirmish: ‘All that did was hurt’ the Bears

Considering he plays maybe the second-most important position on the offense, Jenkins’ development — the rest of the season and beyond — is critical to the future of the franchise. 

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears
Bears tackle Teven Jenkins blocks Monday night against the Vikings.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hours after he traded up to draft Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins, Bears general manager Ryan Pace explained why.

“He plays with a lot of toughness and finish,” Pace said. “We went into this draft looking for that trait, and he definitely has that trait — that toughness, that nasty style of play.”

Monday night, America saw it. After Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum pushed rookie quarterback Justin Fields in the third quarter, Jenkins tried to confront him. Instead, Vikings teammate Sheldon Richardson got in Jenkins’ face, and the rookie swung at him with his right arm.

Fields appreciated someone sticking up for him — “I think that’s what we need more of,” he said — but it has to be done the right way. There’s nasty and there’s stupid, and what Jenkins did was the latter. It cost the Bears 12 yards, scuttling a drive that would go from first-and-10 to second-and-22 to third-and-20 to a punt.

“From my point of view, I looked over there, I saw Justin getting hit while running out of bounds. It’s not something you really want to see,” Jenkins said Friday.

Considering he plays maybe the second-most important position on the offense, Jenkins’ development — both the rest of the season and beyond — is critical to the future of the franchise.

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said Jenkins’ pass blocking Monday night was a reason to be excited. In his first NFL start, the Bears hope he learned a lesson — how to harness his aggressiveness. In his second Sunday, the Bears hope he improves even more.

“I learned to do it between the lines instead of outside the lines,” Jenkins said. “There’s a better way to handle what I did. I do understand how I did it was not a smart way to do it. All that did was hurt the team.”

Jenkins was flagged four times in his first extended NFL playing time in Green Bay. In his second start against the Vikings, he was called for three penalties, including the unnecessary-roughness call.

After the flag was thrown, veteran right tackle Germain Ifedi squared his shoulders up against Jenkins, shoved him with both arms, pointed him toward the Bears’ sideline and, for good measure, pushed him in that direction with his right arm.

Ifedi, a 27-year-old six-year veteran, said he understood why Jenkins did what he did.

“But what you have to do in that moment is, ‘OK, I don’t like what he did, but I have a lot more opportunities versus this player — and I have a lot more opportunities to impose my will against this player between the whistles,’ ” he said. “And do it the clean way, which is what we can do on the offensive line. We can get aggressive and do it the clean way.”

Ifedi then detailed the Bears’ offensive problems against the Vikings: They were down 14, trying to move the ball and had struggled in the red zone. The last thing they needed was Jenkins’ flag.

“I love the aggression,” Ifedi said. “I love the passion he plays with. And I love the kid. But in the future, we don’t want to get those penalties. The message I sent to him, and what I talked to him about, is there’s no good situation to cost the team in any scenario. No matter how upset you are, you can’t do it.

“Look, I’ve been that guy in my career getting bad penalties. It may look like you’re doing it because of this and that. But at the end of the day, it hurts you, and it hurts the team. We just can’t have that in any situation because 15 yards, you can’t get that back.”