Plenty ‘still up in the air’ regarding Teven Jenkins’ future with Bears
He sees himself as a tackle who is playing guard. The team seems clear that it wants him at guard. And making the roster doesn’t end any uncertainty about his fit with the Bears.
If there were times over the last tumultuous month when you wondered whether Bears offensive lineman Teven Jenkins still would be on the team at this point, you weren’t alone.
Jenkins did, too. Often. In fact, he still was wondering that after making the roster Tuesday even as he is presumed to be the team’s starting right guard.
“I still say it’s up in the air,” Jenkins said of his status with the Bears. “Nothing’s solidified right now. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be here tomorrow.
“There were many times I was wondering [about my future]. I was even wondering that today. I wasn’t sure about my future at all.”
Jenkins has been in jeopardy seemingly since the day general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus arrived.
Former general manager Ryan Pace drafted him in the second round last year to be the franchise’s left tackle for the next decade, but the new staff quickly shifted him to right tackle and eventually — amid widespread speculation that he’d be traded or cut — gave him a shot at right guard.
Jenkins was ambivalent. It was undoubtedly his fastest route to playing, but it’s not necessarily what he envisioned.
“I still think of myself as a tackle that can go down and play guard,” he said. “As of right now, is it better for my career to be a guard? Yeah, probably. So that means I’m all for it right now. I also label myself as a tackle.”
The ordeal early in training camp lingers. He missed seven practices with an unspecified injury, trade rumors were rampant and he bristled at what he said was an unfounded assertion that he had friction with coaches. He hasn’t buried it yet.
“I need to do that, [but] it’s really hard,” Jenkins said. “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it right now and trying to get past what happened and trying to look forward to the season.”
The Bears closed the preseason with Jenkins at right guard while Sam Mustipher played center. When they started camp, Mustipher was at right guard. The team anticipates center Lucas Patrick coming back from a broken thumb before the Sept. 11 opener, which would then force a choice between Jenkins and Mustipher.
Rookie Braxton Jones, a fifth-round pick from Southern Utah, took hold of the starting left tackle job over the offseason and never slipped. Larry Borom, a fifth-rounder who came in with Jenkins, is the starting right tackle.