LAKE FOREST – Teven Jenkins is on the move from left tackle to right tackle this spring. The 2021 second-round draft pick appeared in six games last season as a rookie, including two starts at left tackle late in the season.
But Jenkins said the new Bears coaching staff came in for a meeting this spring and told the offensive line that Jenkins would be on the right side and fellow second-year tackle Larry Borom would be at left tackle.
Borom played some left tackle last season, too. The former Bears regime envisioned Jenkins as the left tackle of the future, even though Jenkins had the majority of his college experience at right tackle. New Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has been clear that, with any position, no decisions have been made about the depth chart.
“Nothing’s ever set in stone,” Jenkins said.
The 24-year-old Jenkins said he is willing to play wherever he can help the team, wherever he can elevate the offense.
“With offensive linemen, the real evaluation starts when ... you’ve got pads on, you can hit, you can fit blocks, you can compete, you can finish in the pocket,” offensive line coach Chris Morgan added. “Those guys are doing a nice job right now learning the system, learning techniques.”
Jenkins missed more than half of last season after having back surgery in August. He returned for the final six games. He said on Tuesday after practice at OTAs that he didn’t really feel back to himself until his second game back.
Flash forward a few months and the Bears now have a new front office in place and a new coaching staff. That means a fresh start for everyone. Step No. 1 for the offensive line is to become lighter and quicker. For Jenkins, that meant losing some weight.
Near the end of the season, Jenkins weighed in at about 345, he said. Now he’s at about 325. He has dropped his body fat from 33% to 24%. It has largely been about cutting carbs and focusing his diet around meat and vegetables. He has also taken up pilates, which have helped his core strength and his back.
“It’s just [about] how can he move with all that weight at like 330?” Jenkins said. “Because you’re going to be stronger with all that weight because you’re going to be more stout, of course. But when you start losing weight, now you say, ‘He’s mobile,’ and see how your strength transitions from that 330 to whatever weight you cut off at.”
With that, the goal is to play faster. Jenkins said he can already tell offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme is faster for the linemen than what they ran a year ago under Matt Nagy. Under Getsy, the Bears are transitioning to a wide zone run-blocking scheme, much like the 49ers run under Kyle Shanahan and the Packers under Matt LaFleur.
In the run game, the goal is to gain the edge laterally. The system works well if slimmer linemen can move into the second level of the defense quickly.
“It lets you be the aggressor a little bit,” Morgan said. “We’re still trying to figure out who we are.”
Getsy spent the past three seasons under LaFleur studying the system. Morgan was an assistant offensive line coach at Washington from 2011-13 under Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator, and he was the offensive line coach in Atlanta from 2015-20, the first two years of which were again with Shanahan. It’s not hard to connect the dots and see where the Bears envision this offense going.
For Jenkins, that means less rice and less beer.
“I’m trying to get more cleansed out, I guess,” Jenkins said.