It is easy to take head coach Matt Eberflus at his word when he tells us not to read too much into where players are lining up and whether they’re running with the first, second or third units in practice.
It makes sense when he tells us guys are moving around so he and his new coaches can figure out which combinations can work best.
Still, it was a bit jarring when we saw rookie Braxton Jones at left tackle with the starters at the final OTA of the spring and Larry Borom at right tackle with Teven Jenkins dropped to the second unit.
Eberflus again insisted though, nothing to see there, just more moving people around to see what they can do.
“So early on in the OTAs, remember we talked about the tackles, you guys asked a question about the tackles, and I don’t remember what media member it was but we said, ‘Hey, we’re going to move guys around and shift guys around,’” Eberflus said Wednesday.
“We’ve moved some receivers around. We’ve adjusted some guys on the defensive line just to really find out, have a true evaluation of what’s the best fit for us going into training camp.”
Fair enough, but this time with Jenkins there’s a lot more evidence to suggest something could be up. That it’s more than a game of musical chairs.
There are no other offensive linemen, receivers or D-linemen drafted as highly as Jenkins to be the future of their position groups, who missed all of training camp and most of their rookie seasons and desperately need reps.
The offensive line was the Bears greatest weakness in 2021. And yet the Bears did nothing to address it in the offseason beyond signing veteran journeymen Lucas Patrick, Dakota Dozier, Julie’n Davenport and Shon Coleman and adding four Day 3 draft choices, in large part because many believed the future was already here in the lightly tested ‘21 rookies, Borom and Jenkins.
So if the goal was just to see how Jones looked with the No. 1s, why not just drop Borom to the second unit for the day?
Or better yet, why not move Borom to right guard, arguably his best position – and it appears the team’s weakest – where Dozier and Sam Mustipher have been sharing reps?
Something isn’t right here.
O-line coach Chris Morgan just told us a couple weeks ago that the biggest challenge is finding five guys that mesh well together.
No unit on the field requires more teamwork and timing than the O-line. Even in the summer, regularly moving guys in and out has to hamper that.
Competition is great but these guys aren’t competing right now, they’re learning the system and how to play it together.
You can understand looking at Borom and Jenkins each on the right and left side to see which side they’re more comfortable on, but I’ve never covered a team that didn’t pick what it thought was its best five and then leave them out there until they did something to earn a demotion, or a player behind them was just lighting it up so much they had to get them on the field.
Might Jenkins need motivating and maturing and this just is a tactic?
Could be, but that is almost always more effective when the coach says that’s what he’s doing rather than trying to hide it.
Something has just felt off with Jenkins since he arrived at training camp last August unable to go.
Jenkins was asked last week how he felt with all the changes in the organization.
“For me, it’s about earning trust and earning their belief that I deserve to be on this team still,” Jenkins said. “I’m working for that trust. Putting more of that trust they have into me will make me feel more comfortable.”
Jenkins is s still a great kid and intriguing physical prospect, but as the guy who was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Bears next solid offensive line, there’s just something in the air that suggests his new bosses may not be buying it.
And this latest move can’t possibly have helped him find the comfort and trust he’s looking for.