Five days after agreeing to sign a one-year deal with the Bears, 39-year-old left tackle Jason Peters completed the coronavirus test intake process for unvaccinated players and practiced for the first time Thursday.
He’s scheduled to participate in pregame drills Saturday but won’t play in a game until the preseason finale Aug. 28 at the Titans.
Coach Matt Nagy said the Bears want to make sure that Peters feels healthy and learns the playbook after spending the last 12 years in Philadelphia. He is expected to be the Week 1 starter.
Nagy said he was excited to see “a guy that is that athletic, that talented,” and who cares.
“I know that he’s in a good place right now mentally,” he said. “So, yeah, there’s excitement to get out there. Even talking to the younger guys, we got a young offensive line, and they’re at a point right now where I think they’re kind of eager to learn from him and to see what kind of advice he has.”
Peters has been to nine Pro Bowls but none since 2016. In the last four seasons, he has missed an average of five starts per year because of injury. Still, the Bears are hoping he can help fill a void created by rookie Teven Jenkins, a 2021 second-round pick who had back surgery Tuesday. Nagy said the surgery “went well” but offered no update. There’s a chance Jenkins — who thanked fans on social media for their get-well-soon messages Wednesday — can return this season.
Veteran Elijah Wilkinson and rookie Larry Borom, a fifth-round pick, will continue to play left tackle in camp. Borom returned Thursday after missing two weeks with a concussion. The Bears were excited about Borom’s play at left tackle during “Family Fest” on Aug. 3.
“To me, that kind of showed, ‘Hey, the stage wasn’t too big for him,’ ” Nagy said. “The first day of pads, out there in front of everybody, that was a different setting for our players, and he did great.”
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who’s in line for a massive payday, confirmed that he doesn’t currently have an agent. How is he going to negotiate an extension then?
“I haven’t gotten there yet,” he said. “We’ll see when I get there.”
Asked whether he’d represent himself, he repeated that “I’ll get there when I get there.”
Smith had to be encouraged by extensions given to two inside linebackers — the 49ers’ Fred Warner (five years, $95.5 million) and the Colts’ Darius Leonard (five years, $98.5 million) — since July.
“The contracts they’re getting, they’ve earned them,” he said.
Smith smiled when asked whether those deals set the bar.
“That’s what they call it,” he said.
Per the Chicago mandate that kicks in Friday, Bears fans will be required to wear masks inside indoor areas of Soldier Field on Saturday.
The masks can be removed while eating or drinking.
They’re optional for fans in outdoor parts of the stadium but recommended for unvaccinated fans.