Bears

Hub Arkush: Teven Jenkins’ return, injuries at receiver lead to more uncertainty for Bears

Chicago Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins warms up prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 21, 2021 in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – Bears tackle Teven Jenkins made his first on-field appearance since the opening day of training camp, 10 days and eight practices ago. He did only individual drill work on Saturday.

Shortly thereafter, recently acquired receiver N’Keal Harry, who had begun to turn a few heads, got caught up in a pile while blocking an outside run. Harry crumpled to the ground with what looked like a painful lower-body injury and needed to be helped from the field by two teammates.

Immediately following practice, head coach Matt Eberflus informed the media that receiver Byron Pringle suffered a quad injury. While Eberflus doesn’t think the injury will keep Pringle from being ready by Week 1, he did say, “It’s longer than day-to-day, so that’s all I can say, but no real timetable to return.”

Next Jenkins, met the media in what proved to be half interview, half sparring session. He confirmed that he has been dealing with an injury, but refused to reveal the injury’s nature, while saying he does very much want to remain a Chicago Bear.

At a point in camp where you’d hope to be beginning to find answers, it all raised a number of new questions.

I asked Eberflus if he feels there is a point in the exhibition season where it’s necessary to move on from evaluating and settle on starters in order to prepare them fully for the start of the season?

“Yeah, you do, you have to balance – it’s a balance,” he said. “When it comes to light, it’ll be there. It’ll be there. Yep, this guy’s making a move. He’s made the move. He’s been consistent. This guy is clearly the starter now and let’s let it play out. If you let that happen, then it happens naturally.”

On Saturday, they went backwards.

Pringle and Harry are pretty much locks for roster spots and significant reps. How much their injuries will set them back is an unknown, but it can’t help.

With Jenkins, it’s easy to forget that at one time he was penciled in – even by this regime – as the starting right tackle. He appears to be no better than third string at the moment with Riley Reiff and Larry Borom ahead of him at right tackle now that Braxton Jones is starting on the left side.

More to the point, on a final 53-man roster, some teams carry eight offensive linemen, some nine and rarely will you see 10. It’s extremely difficult, at this point, to see any of Reiff, Borom, Jones, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Sam Mustipher or Michael Schofield getting cut.

With the time rookie Ja’Tyre Carter has spent running with the first team and the likelihood that he wouldn’t clear waivers if he were released for the practice squad, he looks like No. 8.

Obviously, it would help projecting Jenkins’ future if we new what his injury is, particularly if it’s the back injury that required surgery last year. But when asked about it, all Jenkins would say was, “I’m not going to disclose that right now.”

Jenkins also did little to dispel rumors that he’s not thrilled with the new regime. When asked how he feels about them, he said, “Just in general, I’m here for the Chicago Bears right now. I’m here to play football for the Chicago Bears and that’s what I’m going to do, and what I plan on doing right now.”

Asked if it’s been difficult dealing with all the speculation about his status (which he probably ramped up with his answers today), Jenkins said, “I really ain’t got a comment to that. It’s just how it is. It’s just how it goes. It’s life, life’s hard.”

To be clear, this is a good young man who arrived here 15 months ago outgoing, bubbly and near over-the-top excited to be a Bear.

While he continues to try and say the right things, he appeared a bit broken and somewhat resigned to an uncertain mess he never saw coming, and one in which we still know very little of the details or how it got here.

What has been a somewhat rough maiden voyage for Ryan Poles and Eberflus – with a failed free agent signing, three players arrested, the Roquan Smith standoff and now Saturday’s events – appears to have gotten a bit rockier.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.