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At 39, Jason Peters confident he still has it

The nine-time Pro Bowl LT isn’t the elite athlete he was in his prime, but he insists he’s not done yet. “I feel good. I’ve still got my quicks, my strength. It’s [a matter of] getting my legs up under me.”

Bears left tackle Jason Peters (71) has made the Pro Bowl nine times and the All-Pro team twice in his 16-year career.
Bears left tackle Jason Peters (71) has made the Pro Bowl nine times and the All-Pro team twice in his 16-year career.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Football is an addiction that is almost impossible to give up on voluntarily — even after 16 seasons in the NFL.

So it figured that 39-year-old Jason Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle without a home, was anxiously sitting by the phone as training camps opened last month, waiting for another opportunity — and probably monitoring situations like the Bears’ as their left tackle issue became more and more precarious.

Right, Jason Peters?

“I wasn’t monitoring nothing,” Peters said. “I was fishing when Juan [Castillo] called me. I was just on a creek [at his home in Texas]. My phone rang, and it was Juan. I was like, ‘Uh, oh. I know what this is.’ ”

Peters’ history with Castillo, who was his line coach with the Eagles in 2009-10, made it an easy match. The Bears were desperate for a left tackle last week with rookie Teven Jenkins out with a back injury. And Peters needed the job. “I just love the game,” he said.

Peters signed with the Bears on Aug. 16 and practiced with his new teammates for the first time Thursday. He split first-team reps with fifth-round rookie Larry Borom on Monday, but he is here to win the job.

A proud veteran likely headed to the Hall of Fame, Peters insists he has nothing to prove, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be. He’s 39 and coming off an injury. His last Pro Bowl season was in 2016. And he was fishing on a creek two weeks into training camp.

“I just tell them to come watch the game or practice and see if they can [tell] if I’m 39 out there,” Peters said of the doubters. “I feel good. I’ve still got my quicks, my strength. It’s [a matter of] getting my legs up under me because the guys started in April — they got a big head start on me. So I’m just trying to get my legs where their legs are right now, doing extra stuff, conditioning stuff and weight room right now.”

Castillo’s endorsement was a key to general manager Ryan Pace signing Peters. But Castillo knows that Peters will be a bit of a project rather than a plug-and-play solution. Even Castillo doesn’t know exactly how much Peters has left.

“That’s a good question,” Castillo said. “When I had him before, he was an elite athlete. When I looked at the [recent] tape, I thought he was a good athlete. He’s not an elite athlete, he’s a good athlete, which is still pretty good.

“We’ll bring back the technique stuff that we did when we were together. I just showed him all the cut-ups when we were together and he was playing pretty good. Played square. If we do that, I think he’s going to be pretty successful. Like he said, ‘Juan, I’ve done it before. I’ll get that technique back again.’ ”

Peters has come a long way in his career. He was an undrafted free-agent tight end out of Arkansas when the Bills signed him in 2004. He switched to tackle at the behest of then-head coach Mike Mularkey, became a starter in 2006, made his first Pro Bowl in 2007 and was an All-Pro selection in 2011 with the Eagles. Peters won a Super Bowl ring in 2017 with the Eagles but didn’t play in the game. He had suffered a torn knee ligament in Week 7.

“I really don’t have anything to prove,” Peters said. “I just want to win — get another ring to be honest. I was talking to Juan [Sunday] — the Pro Bowl, I’ve got plenty of those. The All-Pros, all the accolades. The biggest one for me now is the Super Bowl. I got one. I would like another one here with the Chicago Bears.”