The Chicago Bears will be spending at least the first month of the 2023 season without starting left guard Teven Jenkins after general manager Ryan Poles confirmed the team’s plans to place him on short-term injured reserve.
Jenkins has been dealing with calf strains in both of his legs since just before the Bears’ second preseason game on August 19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and has been expected to miss the start of the regular season, but it was previously unclear just how long the Bears were planning to be without one of the rising stars of their offense.
Once the Bears place him on IR, though, Jenkins will be required to miss a minimum of four games before he is eligible to be designated for return and even then might need to take advantage of his 21-day activation period to ramp back up to full strength.
On the bright side, Poles classified the injury as “not too serious” and seemed convinced that Jenkins would be ready to return to the active roster sooner rather than later.
“I’m not going to get into specifics,” Poles told reporters on August 30 when pressed for details about what happened to Jenkins. “But we feel like it’s a week-to-week thing, not too serious. He’ll be designated for return [when eligible], and then when he comes back [from injured reserve], he should be good to go.”
What Will Bears’ Starting OL Look Like in Week 1?
Aside from Jenkins, the Bears have seemed encouraged about the other injuries that have plagued their roster throughout training camp with eyes on the season opener. Both Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus indicated that everyone would be ready to go for their first matchup against the Green Bay Packers on September 10, and that’s great news for the consistency of the offensive line in front of quarterback Justin Fields.
Just how will the Bears’ offensive line look against the Packers, though?
Braxton Jones, their second-year left tackle, is the only starting offensive lineman who did not have to deal with a notable injury over the past month. Nate Davis missed quite a bit of camp with an injury, but Eberflus expressed confidence that he will be ready to man the right guard spot for Week 1. Rookie right tackle Darnell Wright (ankle) and veteran center Cody Whitehair (hand) have also been dealing with injuries along with Lucas Patrick, one of their top interior backup options for both center and guard.
If the Bears are right and none of those injuries pester them into the first week, then the line should be mostly what they have envisioned it would be with two young tackles on the outside and a handful of more experienced veterans on the inside. The big questions are the center and left guard positions. Whitehair was moved from left guard to center during the offseason but changed back when Jenkins went down. He could stay at left guard if his injury to his snapping hand prevents him from being their center.
Then there’s the newly-acquired Dan Feeney, whom the Bears traded a 2024 sixth-round pick to add from the Miami Dolphins before the 53-man cut deadline. He is versatile enough to play either left guard or center, so it is possible the Bears will tab him as their substitute starter for the time they must spend without Jenkins.
“Tev’s obviously going to be down for a little bit, but we’re in a much better place up front,” Poles said. “Excited about Dan Feeney, who we brought in. Versatile interior player that makes us feel a lot better and [more secure] as we move through the year.”