Bears notebook: RG Teven Jenkins says he’ll play vs. Lions in return from neck injury

Plus, Justin Jones is moving positions, a new cornerback arrives and more.

SHARE Bears notebook: RG Teven Jenkins says he’ll play vs. Lions in return from neck injury
A photo of Bears right guard Teven Jenkins being carted off the field.

Teven Jenkins was hospitalized Dec. 18 after hurting his neck against the Eagles.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Just two weeks after a sobering scene at Soldier Field in which right guard Teven Jenkins was carried off on a stretcher with a neck injury and taken to the hospital, he plans to play Sunday against the Lions.

Jenkins practiced in full Wednesday, his first on-field work since suffering a strained neck when Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat hit him in the head Dec. 18. The game stopped for about 10 minutes as players and staff surrounded Jenkins on the field.

Jenkins said it was “very scary,” but he was reassured by doctors hours later that there was no major damage and he already feels relatively normal.

“I never imagined myself to be injured like that and get carted off,” he said. “Anytime I can, I try to get off the field [by myself] if I’m hurt. That was one of those instances where they told me to stay down because it was a neck injury and they had to keep it stable.”

When asked if a situation like that made him question whether he wanted to keep playing football, Jenkins said, “Never. This is just part of my job. I’m not gonna change my play style at all. I’m not scared of it at all.”

Jenkins has been steady for the Bears this season amid nonstop upheaval on the offensive line. The former administration drafted him last year to be a left tackle, but when that didn’t work out under the new staff, he successfully switched to right guard shortly before the season opener.

“It’s super relieving — it’s good to have somebody like that back, especially the way he plays,” running back David Montgomery said. “He’s been an [essential] piece to a lot of the success that we’ve had in the run game and pass game. He’s done an awesome job.”

Eberflus’ experiments

This could’ve started a long time ago, but Bears coach Matt Eberflus said he wanted to use the final two games in part to evaluate some players who haven’t gotten much playing time and experiment by moving others to different positions.

The example he gave was shifting defensive tackle Justin Jones to defensive end. If he shows promise there, the Bears could look for a top defensive tackle in free agency or the draft and still get production from Jones on the outside.

“It’s all opportunity,” Jones said. “If they feel like I’ll help the team best at end, I’m gonna do my best to learn that [stuff] and play it to the best of my ability. Obviously I enjoy playing three-technique more, but if the need right now is the end and they think I’m the guy to do it, then my job is to do it.”

Jones played defensive end for the Chargers in a 3-4 defense last season and had three sacks, but that’s similar to a defensive tackle role and much different than playing end in the Bears’ 4-3 as a pass rusher.

Few spots are more important to the Bears’ defense than a bulldozing defensive tackle, and they agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal with former Bengal Larry Ogunjobi before withdrawing over medical concerns. They pivoted to Jones on a two-year, $12 million contract, and he has eight pressures, including two sacks, 43 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Draft watch

All the Bears (3-12) need over the final two weeks to secure the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft is to lose both games and the Texans (2-12-1) win at least once. Former Bears coach Lovie Smith, now with the Texans, sounded intent on continuing to push for wins rather than focus on draft position.

“Everything is short-term… and we’re going to do everything we can to beat [the Jaguars] — simple as that,” Smith said. “It’s one game at a time, and you do the best you can do in that game. And that’s what we do here... Things work out the way they should in the end [draft-wise].”

The Texans are a 4 1/2-point underdog at home against the Jaguars on Sunday and finish the season with a visit to the 4-10-1 Colts.

Ojemudia in, Charlton out

The Bears claimed cornerback Michael Ojemudia off waivers from the Broncos on Wednesday and cleared a roster spot by waiving defensive end Taco Charlton.

The Broncos drafted Ojemudia, 25, in the third round out of Iowa in 2020. He started the season on injured reserve after hurting his elbow and played just three games after being activated in October.

He played every game as a rookie, including 11 starts, and was in for 78% of the defensive snaps, but has dealt with injuries in the two seasons since and played just five games.

Charlton was with the Bears a month and a half and had three tackles in five games.

Kmet wins Good Guy

Bears tight end Cole Kmet won the Jeff Dickerson Good Guy Award, voted on by reporters who cover the team to honor the player who is most helpful to the media by being available and professional.

The award was given Wednesday on the one-year anniversary of Dickerson’s death, and his parents were at Halas Hall for the presentation.

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