Teven Jenkins

Teven Jenkins: ‘I play wherever (the Bears) need me’

This offseason, most of the commentary around the Chicago Bears has focused on the uninspiring group of wide receivers second-year quarterback Justin Fields will throw to in 2022. But that’s been a red herring. The Bears’ wide receivers are fine — not elite, not great, but fine. Instead, the more significant issue (and perhaps, concern) is Chicago’s offensive tackles, where Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom represent the only real options to begin the year as starters.

Here’s the thing, though: They’re swapping positions. Borom, who appeared destined to be Chicago’s right tackle, at least for the short term, after being selected in the fifth round last April, is now on the left side. Jenkins, whom the Bears drafted in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, was sold as the answer at left tackle for the long term. Now, he’s back to his college position on the right side of the offensive line.

“I play wherever they need me — get in where you fit in,” he said Tuesday.

Teven Jenkins

Teven Jenkins’ best fit is at right tackle

There’s more at play than just what’s in the team’s best interest. Jenkins has to settle into a position that provides him with the most career longevity. He profiled as an NFL right tackle during his college career at Oklahoma State, but former general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy had other ideas. And while Jenkins proved to be a capable left tackle during his rookie year, he had some questionable moments too. Namely, he was penalized quite a bit and looked a tad heavy-footed when trying to keep up with speedy edge rushers.

Jenkins finished his rookie season with the worst Pro Football Focus grade of any player on the Bears’ offense who logged at least 100 snaps. His 47.5 season mark was downright putrid, and his 54.6 pass-blocking grade was the worst of all Bears’ primary offensive linemen. So, yeah, something has to change in his second season; and it starts with his position.

To be fair, Jenkins began his rookie year with a back injury that forced him out of training camp, preseason, and the first 13 weeks of the year. He made his debut in Week 14 against the Green Bay Packers but played just 39 snaps over the season’s final three weeks. He’s an incomplete evaluation. In some ways, the 2022 season is Jenkins’ rookie year. And it’s already beginning better than last year; he’s playing his natural position.

“It is comfortable,” Jenkins said. “It’s nice. And I do look forward to keep on getting reps at right tackle. … It’s more about where can I be the best for the team. And what can I do and what certain position (for me) is going to elevate the whole offense.”

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