With Lucas Patrick starting to snap the ball at Bears practice again, the door is open for Teven Jenkins to finally settle in as the full time starter at right guard. Matt Eberflus technically hasn’t named Patrick the starting center again, but the expectation is that if Patrick can snap a ball without restriction, he’ll be the guy in the middle again. We don’t know the plan for Sam Mustipher yet, either. It’s unclear whether the team will leave him as the backup center, start working him at right guard again, or whether they’ll begin a new rotation at right guard between Jenkins and Mustipher. For now, Jenkins is closer than he’s ever been to having the starting job all to himself, and he feels more comfortable at right guard now than he ever did previously.
“Time is more important than anything,” Jenkins said. “Having those reps and all that time from a couple of weeks ago to now, I grew.”
Jenkins is realistic about his play at right guard. He picked up the position just over a month ago and knows he’s not a finished product. He also knows he’s made plays that show he’s got promising upside as an interior lineman. One of Jenkins’ most impressive snaps of the season came in Week 1 when he neutralized Arik Armstead, then pancaked Nick Bosa, then got out in front of a scrambling Justin Fields to neutralize Armstead again. Plays like that give Jenkins confidence that he has what it takes to change positions and learn on the fly.
“You grow up hearing all these big names, and of course those guys are the big names,” said Jenkins. “Being able to play with them makes me feel good.”
It’s not just that the snap against Bosa and Armstead showed that Jenkins can hang with the top defensive linemen in the league, though. It also showed that he can take coaching points and make improvements in areas that have been emphasized for him.
“As you see, as I engaged Armsteadー I talked about how my eye discipline had to get betterー my eyes went straight to Larry, and that’s where it has to be. Like has to be, because he’s counting on me to be there if he does an inside move or anything. That’s where I was.”
Again, Jenkins knows he’s not a finished product. He’s still adapting to the speed of the game at guard compared to tackle. He knows he needs to play more consistently, not only in games, but in practice. But after a whirlwind offseason program, Jenkins once again has the opportunity to make a big impact on the offensive line.