He still might — but reports from multiple Bears insiders suggest something could be up with the team’s new regime and Jenkins, who was a selection of former head coach Matt Nagy and ex-general manager Ryan Pace.
With OTAs over halfway complete, Jenkins, who began taking reps with the starters, was noticeably seen playing with the second team. Rookie Braxton Jones took his spot on the first team at left tackle and Larry Borom, a 2021 fifth-rounder, moved over from left to right tackle.
Does Jenkins playing with the 2s mean anything? Multiple insiders say absolutely.
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Insider: ‘Something Isn’t Right’ With Jenkins & Bears
Jenkins had a rough start to his rookie campaign, spending the bulk of the season on the injured reserve list after a back issue that required surgery. The Bears also decided to switch Jenkins from the right tackle position he played in college at Oklahoma State to left tackle. He wound up appearing in six games, starting two, and while he showed improvement towards the end of the regular season, he still struggled at times.
In 117 pass block snaps and 43 run block snaps last season, Jenkins allowed two sacks, two QB hits and 11 pressures, also getting flagged for seven penalties, per PFF.
New Bears coach Matt Eberflus may be telling everyone not to read into Jenkins playing with the 2s after getting a shot with the starters, but two top Bears insiders disagree.
“We wanted to change combinations,” Eberflus told the media on June 8 about the O-line shuffle. But according to longtime Bears insider Hub Arkush of The Daily Herald, “there’s a lot more evidence to suggest something could be up” with Jenkins. “It’s more than a game of musical chairs,” Arkush wrote. “There are no other offensive linemen, receivers or D-linemen drafted as highly as Jenkins to be the future of their position groups, who missed all of training camp and most of their rookie seasons and desperately need reps.”
Arkush has a point. Jenkins, more than Borom, who was healthy for most of the 2021 season, needs reps after missing so much time last year. “Something isn’t right here,” Arkush added.
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Adam Jahns: Jenkins not Giving New Regime What it Wants
Arkush also doesn’t think Chicago is putting the second-year OL with the 2s to motivate him.
“Might Jenkins need motivating and maturing and this just is a tactic? Could be, but that is almost always more effective when the coach says that’s what he’s doing rather than trying to hide it. Something has just felt off with Jenkins since he arrived at training camp last August unable to go,” Arkush noted, adding: “As the guy who was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Bears next solid offensive line, there’s just something in the air that suggests his new bosses may not be buying it.”
Another top insider, Adam Jahns of The Athletic, also thinks something is amiss if Jenkins is no longer playing with the starters.
“Jenkins should still be viewed and evaluated differently,” Jahns wrote on June 10. “The expectations for him are different as the 39th pick last year. If Jenkins was giving his new coaches what they wanted, he wouldn’t be playing with the second team.”
Jahns, who is as tuned in to the team as it gets, also noted that this will be something to watch as the summer progresses.
“It’s an early red flag for Jenkins. If he remains with the reserves in minicamp, it’s another one.”