LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins returned to training camp Saturday after missing seven straight practices with an undisclosed injury.
Jenkins, who is in a period of preparation, only participated in individual exercises. The second-year lineman wouldn’t disclose the details of his injury, including whether he was hurt during the team’s first practice on July 27, whether he’s still dealing with back problems after undergoing surgery last offseason and what he is currently recovering, but estimated that he should be at full 100% health in “a couple of days”.
“He feels great and I don’t have any discomfort right now, so he’s doing great,” Jenkins said after Saturday’s practice. “If you had to give me a percentage, probably around 90% and it’s just about getting my body back to feeling football and getting back to 100% ‘this is football’ and being ready.”
Jenkins said he has been in the training room for the past nine days and that his extended absence was to “improve my health.”
His absence was particularly conspicuous at Halas Hall amid trade rumors involving the second-round pick. Earlier in the week, Jenkins responded to a fan on Twitter concerned about his whereabouts that he “doesn’t believe everything he reads” in light of reports of mutual discontent between the player and the franchise.
“Just one thing, mainly, that he was clashing with the coaches,” Jenkins said. “That wasn’t entirely true, and I just wanted to tell everyone that you don’t have to believe everything someone says. That’s the way it is.”
Throughout the first week and a half of practice, coach Matt Eberflus refused to address the details of Jenkins’ absence, classifying the inning as “day to day.” Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Friday that Jenkins has been around during team meetings and “all in.”
Both Getsy and Eberflus contend that Jenkins is vying for a starting job on the offensive line and have conveyed that message to the lineman.
“Really, the same thing as everyone: ‘Go out there and race. It’s all open. Dive in,'” Eberflus said. “Like we said, he’s been really good in meetings. He’s been very attentive. He’s been paying attention. He’s been back on the road watching plays and understanding his role and his plays. So he’s been good. “.
Jenkins was selected 39th overall in 2021 by former Bears general manager Ryan Pace. After undergoing back surgery before his rookie season, Jenkins was limited to 157 snaps at left tackle last season.
Jenkins said he believes in the Bears organization and looks forward to being with the team through the regular season. “For myself, I’m a loyal type of person,” Jenkins said. “The Chicago Bears drafted me, so I’ll stay with the Chicago Bears for as long as I can.”
Jenkins was replaced at left tackle by fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones during the OTAs and was moved to right tackle with the second team. On the first day of training camp, Jenkins got reps at swing tackle and said he’s willing to explore a switch to guard.
“I’m willing to play wherever they want me,” Jenkins said. “I want to be here in Chicago, so I’m going to play wherever they need me to play.”
Jenkins’ return came on a day that Chicago finished its ninth practice of training camp with three of its top four wide receivers.
N’Keal Harry sustained a left ankle/foot injury during the first play of team drills and his teammates and coaches had to help him off the field.
“I just saw it go down,” Eberflus said. “I saw the play and I really don’t know much from there. Obviously we’re going to do the evaluation and then once I have it, we can get it back to you. And if it’s a longer situation, we’ll let you know what it is. If it’s day by day, we will also say it”.
Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. also didn’t participate Saturday. Pringle, one of the Bears’ top free-agent signings, has a quad injury, according to Eberflus, and doesn’t have a timeline for his return, though the team is optimistic his injury won’t keep him out of the regular season.
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” Eberflus said. “It’s longer than day-to-day, so that’s all I can say, but there’s no real timetable to come back. But we’re hopeful that it’s a good situation for us.”
Jones Jr. is “day to day,” according to Eberflus, who addressed concerns about the team’s wide receiver depth after being without three players in line for the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receiver roles.
“Yes, you are always worried about it,” said Eberflus. “You know, during camp, when you have this 90-man roster and guys go down with a soft tissue problem or whatever, you put workloads on other guys. And those other guys get opportunities. They get more reps, so you have to be aware of that. And we were. We’re aware of that.”