Guard Teven Jenkins’ injury throws Bears for a loop — again

The continuity on the offensive line the Bears hoped would be a benefit for Justin Fields and the offense has not been there — a reminder that injuries are a constant threat to the rebuild.

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Bears guard Teven Jenkins could miss the regular-season opener with a leg injury.

Bears guard Teven Jenkins could miss the regular-season opener with a leg injury.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The optimism that the Bears would take a significant leap — if not a giant one — in 2023 after going 3-14 last season was rooted in oft-dreamy offseason narratives that looked more real than not.

Receiver DJ Moore would be a boon for quarterback Justin Fields. (He has been from the moment he stepped on the same field.)

Safety Jaquan Brisker, cornerback Kyler Gordon and other 2022 rookies would be much improved after promising debut seasons. (Brisker, in particular, has looked like a future star, while Gordon also has shown obvious signs of growth already in training camp.)

Rookie Darnell Wright, the 10th overall pick in the draft, would be a plug-and-play anchor at right tackle who not only would be good for a rookie, but good by any NFL standard. (Despite a long way to go, early indicators are positive that Wright’s ‘‘welcome to the NFL moments’’ will be few and brief.)

Those all bode well for the Bears being better in 2023. But there have been disappointments. At the top of that list: Continuity on the offensive line would be a huge boost for Fields and the Bears’ offense.

After mixing and matching from the start in 2022, the Bears went into camp this season with a set lineup: left tackle Braxton Jones, left guard Teven Jenkins, center Cody Whitehair, right guard Nate Davis and right tackle Wright. The continuity with that group figured to provide the chemistry every offensive line thrives on.

Unfortunately for the Bears, the continuity part hasn’t worked out. By the time the Bears first practiced in full pads Aug. 1, Davis was out with an undisclosed injury, replaced by Lucas Patrick. On the second day in pads, Jenkins was out with an undisclosed injury, replaced by Alex Leatherwood.

Davis finally returned for limited participation in team drills Wednesday against the Colts, but Whitehair suffered a hand injury early in practice the next day.

Now those nagging injuries are compounded by a more serious one. Jenkins suffered a leg injury that apparently flared up after practice Thursday, and his status for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 is in doubt.

It remains to be seen how long Jenkins will be out, but his injury makes it a virtual certainty that the Bears will go into the season with their starting offensive line having played seven snaps together in pads in team drills in practice.

The offensive line still figures to be better this season. With Whitehair at left guard and Patrick at center while Jenkins is out, it’s still a better lineup than at any point last season. But the lack of continuity already is a reminder of arguably the biggest threat to the Bears’ rebuild: injuries.

Receiver Chase Claypool being better with a full offseason in the system and a better understanding of coordinator Luke Getsy’s offense was another hopeful offseason narrative. And it looked golden early in camp. But Claypool tweaked a hamstring in a one-on-one drill Aug. 9 and has missed the last five practices. Claypool is day-to-day even when he’s healthy, so all the Bears can do is wait and see on him.

Coach Matt Eberflus has low-keyed all the Bears’ injuries in camp, unwilling to provide details unless the injury is ‘‘long-term.’’ Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (undisclosed) has been out since Aug. 4. Brisker (undisclosed) has been out since Aug. 5. Safety Eddie Jackson (undisclosed) didn’t practice Thursday after suffering an injury when he collided Wednesday with Colts receiver Michael Pittman.

On Monday, the Bears practiced without Jenkins, Edmunds, Claypool, Jackson and Brisker, plus defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (ramp-up) and DeMarcus Walker (returning from an injury).

None of the injuries has met the ‘‘long-term’’ standard, with the extent of Jenkins’ injury to be determined. It’s still early, but it gets late quickly in the NFL. The Bears’ rebuild depends on Fields but also on staying healthy. And not necessarily in that order.

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