The Chicago Bears returned to the practice field Monday morning for the first time since Saturday’s preseason opener, and Teven Jenkins was in a new position.
Last year’s second-round draft pick lined up at right guard, but it will be hard for coaches to assess how he looked when players wore helmets and protectors, not full protection, during the 90-minute practice.
Here are four things we learned at Halas Hall, including more about Jenkins slipping inside.
The reminder was in response to an uncertified agent who contacted teams, allegedly to create business interest for Bears linebacker Roquan Smith.
“The NFLPA has informed us that a person by the name of Saint Omni, who is not an NFLPA certified agent, is contacting the clubs and indicates that he represents Roquan Smith, who is under contract with the Chicago Bears,” the memo said. “Mr. Omni is prohibited from negotiating player contracts or discussing potential trades on behalf of any NFL player or prospective player or assisting or advising with respect to such negotiations.”
The Bears are not believed to have given Smith permission to seek a trade. Last week he issued a statement to the NFL Network saying he wants to be traded. But Smith, or anyone who works for him, can’t make that process any easier unless the Bears provide his blessing.
“Manipulation is a corrosive problem that undermines both the integrity of the game and relationships between clubs,” the memo said. “Consequently, should tampering be discovered, the Competition Committee has recommended the imposition of stricter discipline than that imposed in previous years.”
The Miami Dolphins recently lost their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 fourth-round pick as a result of rigging involving quarterback Tom Brady and coach Sean Payton.
Omni has been linked in the past to Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil, another player like Smith who negotiated a contract without an NFLPA-certified agent.
Jenkins spent last week in a fast-paced period after missing seven straight practices, and that was good enough to play 36 snaps at right tackle with reserves in a 19-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jenkins switched to right guard with the reserves in Monday’s practice, which is interesting for several reasons.
- Starting right guard Michael Schofield was beaten by a sack by Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, but the coaches didn’t change the depth chart based on a play. That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t consider competition at this position with almost four weeks until the start of the season.
- The starters at the tackle look entrenched. If the coaches didn’t feel good about rookie left tackle Braxton Jones, he wouldn’t have come out Saturday after 18 snaps with the first team. Veteran Riley Reiff is the second-highest-paid lineman on the team and will start at right tackle as long as Jones is in the lineup.
- Larry Borom could emerge as the swing tackle and has been ahead of Jenkins since he opened camp. So Jenkins can help himself by showing that he can play inside and out.
Some league scouts projected that Jenkins, who played primarily right tackle at Oklahoma State, would be a better fit at guard. But this is the first time the Bears have seen him there, and Tuesday’s practice will be the last before Thursday’s game at Seattle.
Moving Jenkins won’t make it easy for him, but this could be his best chance to break into the starting lineup.
“The one thing in our system … is guards get more mental stress than tackles,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. “That’s the strength of his game, so we want to test that and see how it looks within what we’re trying to do.”
The sixth-round draft pick out of Baylor returned the opening kickoff 34 yards on Saturday and was responsible for the longest play from scrimmage, a 27-yard run in the second quarter. Siemian then connected with Ebner for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
“He has some traits and some feel to catch the ball from the backfield, which is huge,” Siemian said. “You know he’s still learning, but you’re definitely encouraged by some of the things he can do off the field or in a wide open division.
“It’s been fun watching guys like him make some strides in camp, and it’s only going to get better the more he gets better. He’s wired up in the right way and you don’t really know until you get into live action when guys are getting knocked down and things get more real, but it was fun to watch him play.”
It’s early days, but it looks like Ebner could play a Tarik Cohen-like role on offense as a change-of-pace running back. The Bears would have to get comfortable with his pass blocking, but his special teams ability and his speed and elusiveness in the open field give him a good chance to continue to impress his teammates and coaches.
Getsy said the coaching staff is still determining how much playing time they want certain units and players to get against the Seahawks. Surely it’s not the schedule the Bears would have chosen if they had a choice.
The good news is that several players who were sidelined for much of training camp returned for light practice Monday: cornerbacks Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley, wide receiver Velus Jones, tight ends Cole Kmet and James O’Shaughnessy and the offense dealing with Julien Davenport. Kmet and O’Shaughnessy did not participate in the team exercises.
Strong safety Jaquan Brisker and defensive tackle Justin Jones were unable to practice, and rookie center Doug Kramer was not seen. Tight end Ryan Griffin and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe were also left out.