Teven Jenkins to injured reserve: 5 things we learned from Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles on Wednesday

What will it take for Justin Fields to earn a contract extension?

Chicago Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins waits to face the New York Jets during an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.

LAKE FOREST – Bears general manager Ryan Poles met with the media Wednesday after making final cuts to the 53-man roster Tuesday.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Jenkins will start season on injured reserve

Poles said offensive lineman Teven Jenkins will start the season on injured reserve with a designation to return, which means he’ll miss at least the first four games. Jenkins has missed the past week of practice with an undisclosed injury that Poles didn’t clarify Wednesday, saying it was week-to-week.

“It’s nothing too serious,” Poles said.

Jenkins showed growth in his second season with the Bears, the first under Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. He played in 13 games last season, starting 11, and took a big step forward at left guard.

Jenkins’ absence will cause some shifting on the offensive line, including at left guard and center. Poles didn’t have an answer for who would start where but said the team will have a better idea next week once it starts preparing for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.

2. Quarterback room might not be set

Justin Fields and undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent are the only two quarterbacks on the active roster as of Wednesday after the team cut Nathan Peterman. Poles said the team will try to sign Peterman back to the practice squad because of his experience.

“He’s important to us,” Poles said. “He’s important to that room, as well.”

Poles said he’d like to keep the room at three quarterbacks and sang Bagent’s praises for making the active roster. But he also didn’t commit to Bagent being Fields’ backup once the season officially starts.

“We take a look at everything,” Poles said. “That’s our plan right now.”

Poles was impressed with how Bagent has handled himself since joining the team as an undrafted rookie who played at Division II Shepherd University.

“He was really poised throughout the entire process, elevated his game every single week, he got better,” Poles said.

3. Bears expected to add punt returner Trent Taylor

Poles said the Bears were working on adding veteran receiver Trent Taylor, who was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday, to open the season as the team’s punt returner.

Taylor started his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 before joining the Bengals in 2021. He averaged 10.3 yards on 33 punt returns last season with his longest return being 27 yards. Taylor also returned two kickoffs for 15 yards and caught six passes for 34 yards as a wide receiver.

Poles is excited for what Taylor could bring to the team.

“Consistency,” Poles said. “When the ball gets punted you can go grab a snack and go to the bathroom and come back and you feel confident about it.”

Poles said Velus Jones Jr. still will get some repetitions at punt return, but Taylor will be the starter as Jones tries to regroup. Jones averaged 7 yards on five punt returns last season and has struggled to find his footing as the team’s lead punt returner this training camp.

“We’re going to continue working on those guys and get them experience, try to get that confidence back that he had in college,” Poles said. “Having something to achieve in his head, that’s a tough thing, you need to work through it. He’s had some injuries, too, but we still believe in him and continue to develop his talent.”

4. Expectations for Fields

Some of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL received contract extensions after impressive third seasons, notably Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes.

Poles is hoping Fields, who enters his third pro season, makes it an easy decision to open up the checkbook next offseason.

Although Poles made sure to note he leaves Fields’ development up to head coach Matt Eberflus and his staff, Poles does have an idea of what he’d like to see from Fields.

“Make sure the sack numbers are down, interception numbers are down, make good reads, protect himself,” Poles said.

Poles did say he’s been impressed with Fields’ anticipation this training camp and the trust in his wide receivers to make the right plays.

So, what about the contract extension?

Poles said he’ll, of course, look at the film. Did Fields take his game to another level?

There’s also an element that’s a bit harder to quantify.

Your gut instinct is always part of the decision making. ... ” Poles said. “Progress, feeling good about it and watching the tape and seeing whether the guy can take it to the next level.”

Poles doesn’t doubt Fields is motivated.

“He knows what is expected of him and, really, he’s a goal-oriented guy, he’s competitive,” Poles said. “I’m sure his stuff is more aggressive than ours, which is good. That’s what you want.”

5. Contract, trade talk

Poles didn’t provide any updates on where contract negotiations stand with cornerback Jaylon Johnson and wide receiver Darnell Mooney, both of whom enter the last year of their rookie contracts.

“I really don’t want to get into it,” Poles said. “It creates a distraction for the entire year. We like those guys. We’d love to have them here long term, so we’ll just stick with our plan.”

Poles did deny trade rumors regarding Mooney and defensive end Travis Gipson, who was waived Tuesday. Poles also said a report that Gipson was asked to be traded was untrue.

Poles said the Bears waived Gipson so he could find a team with a 3-4 defense, which suited Gipson’s game more, as opposed to the Bears’ 4-3 style under Eberflus.

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is a sports enterprise reporter for Shaw Local, covering the CCL/ESCC for Friday Night Drive and other prep sports for the Northwest Herald. He also is a Chicago Bears contributing writer. He previously was the sports editor for the Glenview Lantern, Northbook Tower and Malibu Surfside News.