Teven Jenkins is back to full strength and feeling good about his chance of winning a roster spot. Whether that spot is with the Bears is to be determined.
In the meantime, it’s good for the team and Jenkins if he shows he can play. He was sturdy as the second-string right tackle in the Bears’ 19-14 preseason win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
“Everything right now is pointing up for me, and I love it,” he said. “I’m feeling good. And I’m looking forward to [playing against the Seahawks on] Thursday, so I can show out and make sure I can still play this game at a high level.”
The Bears held veteran right tackle Riley Reiff out and went with Braxton Jones as their starter on the left side and Larry Borom on the right. Reiff is thought to be the leader for the job, but Borom is still in the race.
If those three are indeed locker in as the top three tackles, that leaves Jenkins fighting simply to make the team. But given that other teams likely were high on him in the draft last year, the Bears might be able to get something in a trade.
Jenkins played right tackle beginning in the second quarter, and it was his most significant action since missing a week and a half with an unspecified injury. The Bears limited his reps in practice all week as part of a “ramp-up” program.
“Just being able to come back out there to the game again and feel my body to be 100% [was great],” Jenkins said.
“I was staring at the scoreboard as time was running out, and I had to bring myself back down to earth because I’m like, ‘I’m still here. I’m still doing this.’ My body’s 100%. Now I just have to trust myself to be able to perform at a high level.”
Former Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded up to take Jenkins at No. 39 overall last year thinking he’d be their left tackle of the future. Jenkins missed most of his rookie season because of back surgery.
When Ryan Poles arrived, it was clear he did not share Pace’s opinion. Poles wouldn’t say whether he thought Jenkins was more suited for left tackle or right, and it was clear he was looking for leaner, more athletic linemen.
Jenkins said he likes playing in this style of offense because he’s familiar with it from college. He was fine cutting his weight from 345 last season to around 320 in the new offense.
Nonetheless, the Bears quickly vaulted fifth-round pick Braxton Jones into the starting role at left tackle in the offseason. From there, it was clear Jenkins would have trouble fitting the team’s plans.