LAKE FOREST — Bears rookie offensive tackle Teven Jenkins will be activated from injured reserve ahead of Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced the move Friday.
Jenkins has missed the entire season up to this point due to a back injury. The 23-year-old second-round draft pick participated in rookie minicamp and organized team activities in the spring, but showed up to training camp with an ailing back. He eventually had back surgery in mid-August and has been rehabbing his way back since.
It’s unclear what exactly Jenkins’ role will be over the final six weeks of the regular season. The Bears have found some stability with veteran tackle Jason Peters at left tackle and rookie fifth-round draft pick Larry Borom at right tackle.
The Bears drafted Jenkins with the 39th overall pick in the spring. General manager Ryan Pace envisions him as a left tackle, though most of his college experience at Oklahoma State came on the right side.
Nagy was asked Friday if he was curious to see what Jenkins could do in a starting role.
“When you draft a guy, you’re always anticipating how he’s going to play, so the common answer would be yes,” Nagy said. “But at the same point in time, he provides a lot of depth to us, and we have a position there at left tackle where Jason Peters is playing pretty well.”
The Bears have been without starting right tackle Germain Ifedi, who went down with a knee injury in Week 5. Borom only just returned from an ankle injury last month.
Borom said he has grown close with Jenkins over the last seven months since they were drafted.
“I can only imagine it’s been tough,” Borom said of Jenkins’ injury recovery. “To not be able to do something that you really want to do, and that you came here to do, is tough on anyone.”
Borom said it has been “very valuable” to see playing time as a rookie. Practice doesn’t truly replicate what it’s like to step onto an NFL field on Sundays. That’s why the Bears are playing rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
And that’s probably why they will want to see what Jenkins can do, at some point. They wouldn’t activate him if they didn’t intend on using him.
Nagy said Friday that the team’s record doesn’t factor into personnel decisions. But if the Bears lose the next two games against Arizona and Green Bay, the top two teams in the NFC, they’d be sitting at 4-9 with effectively no shot at the playoffs. Maybe then they would pull the plug on Peters at left tackle and give Jenkins several starts before the season is over.
“If you’re up [on the active roster] and you’ve got the pads on and you’re out there, you better be ready, because you never know,” Nagy said. “So, mindset-wise, that’s what I’ve been impressed with with Teven. I really believe he’s grown a lot from the day he got here until now, mentally, with just understanding how this game works.”