Teven Jenkins missed the entirety of 2021 training camp as a rookie for the Chicago Bears. Now he’s been a no-show through the first three practices of 2022. Frustration with him from fans is mounting rapidly. He was supposed to be one of the future bookend tackles for the team when they traded up in the 2nd round to get him. Instead, he seems to be spending more time on the trainers’ table than on the actual field.
The Bears haven’t been forthcoming about the exact problem with Jenkins. Head coach Matt Eberflus was cryptic in his response to questions about it, only saying he’s working with the trainers on the issue. That leads one to suggest it is an injury problem. Yet, with no details, people are letting their imaginations run wild as to what it could be. Some fear he might’ve suffered a complication with his surgically-repaired back again.
One insider doesn’t think that’s the case.
David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago provided an update on his YouTube channel. From what he’s hearing, health isn’t the problem at all with Jenkins. It is a maturity issue. He is at odds with the coaching staff, especially offensive line coach Chris Morgan. It isn’t certain how this started, but it would explain the strange demotion Jenkins took back in OTAs when he suddenly went from starting right tackle to backup.
People may often find situations like this happen a lot when teams change coaching staffs. Players that were highly drafted under the previous regime will find themselves in the doghouse of the next. A perfect example is wide receiver, Denzel Mims. He looked like a future focal point of the New York Jets offense in 2020. Then the coaching staff got fired going into his second year, and he barely got playing time under the next one. The reason? Maturity issues.
Teven Jenkins must accept his new reality fast.
Having talent is important to success in the NFL, but it takes far more than that. One must have emotional stability as well. They have to handle the highs and lows of this game. It sounds like Jenkins wasn’t ready for the challenge Morgan and the other coaches brought to the table. Eberflus said there would be a higher standard. It wasn’t going to be easy. Some players may not like it. The 24-year-old might be coming to grips with what that really meant.
One thing is clear. Teven Jenkins better snap himself out of this funk fast. The longer he takes to get back on the field, the lower his chances of actually playing football in 2022. Already veteran Riley Reiff has become the favorite to start at left tackle. Now Larry Borom has gotten most of the starting reps on the right side. If that door closes too, only right guard would remain, and new addition Michael Schofield has far more experience in that spot.
Draft status won’t guarantee him anything.
Jenkins must earn his way onto the field. If he’s pouting about his treatment under the new coaches, that can’t be done. The kid is so gifted with power and athleticism. He has legitimate Pro Bowl potential. Seeing it waste away over something like this would be a tragedy.