Jenkins short on answers about injury, trade rumors after return originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – Teven Jenkins returned to Bears practice for the first time in over a week Saturday at Halas Hall.
The young offensive tackle did light work during individual drills but didn't participate in any competitive team drills during practice in the 90-degree heat.
Jenkins missed seven practices with what the Bears have called a "day-to-day" injury. While he's been off the field, rumors have swirled about his fit with the new staff and the Bears' desire to trade him.
After practice, Jenkins arrived at the dais in the Halas Hall media center and answered questions about his injury and future. It was an exercise with all the excitement and joy of a congressional hearing.
The 24-year-old wouldn't disclose the nature of his injury or whether or not his back, which he had surgery on last year, was completely healthy.
As for the reports that the Bears are looking to trade him, Jenkins gave a tepid declaration that he plans to play in Chicago.
"Just in general, I'm here for the Chicago Bears right now," Jenkins said. "I'm here to play football for the Chicago Bears. That's what I'm going to do and that's what I plan on doing right now."
When asked if he's happy, Jenkins skirted the question.
"I am. It's Chicago. Who is not happy in Chicago? Lot of things to do," Jenkins said.
Earlier this week, Jenkins responded to rumors that he and the coaching staff are at odds with a tweet telling a fan not to believe everything they read.
As far as Jenkins is concerned, any talk that he is clashing with the coaches is "totally not true."
"From my understanding, I love the coaches," Jenkins said. "We have no animosity towards each other. We talk to each other every day. That's it."
The Bears have been adamant that Jenkins, when healthy, can compete for a starting tackle job. That is in direct contrast with their decision to play rookie Braxton Jones at first-string left tackle and sign veteran Riley Reiff at the beginning of camp.
Jenkins believes he will have a legitimate shot to win a starting job once his ramp-up is over. He admits he has to improve and work on his game to make that a reality.
Wherever an opportunity presents itself, be it at tackle or on the interior, Jenkins will try and seize it.
"I'm willing to play wherever they want me. I want to be here in Chicago so I'm playing wherever they need me to play," Jenkins said.
Jenkins knows the regime that drafted him and believed he was the long-term answer at left tackle is gone.
But he says that hasn't changed his desire to want to do right by the Bears and make it work in Chicago.
"For me myself, I'm a loyal type of guy," Jenkins said. "The Chicago Bears, they drafted me so I'm going to stay with the Chicago Bears until whenever it is."
Jenkins believes he'll be ready to play next Saturday when the Bears host the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field in their preseason opener. He also said he plans to be a Bear when the season kicks off on Sept. 11 against the 49ers.
The Bears asked Jenkins to cut a lot of weight to prepare to play in their up-tempo, wide-zone scheme. The Oklahoma State product said it's his "understanding" he's a fit for the Bears' offensive system and that it's similar to what he was asked to do in college under Mike Gundy.
Jenkins did disclose he feels about 90 percent and is hopeful he'll be able to get back to the more competitive portion of practice within the next few days.
The trade rumors did not spark a conversation between Jenkins and general manager Ryan Poles about the tackle's future in Chicago. Jenkins only talked to his agent, Joel Segal, about the situation.
But those conversations, like the details of his injury absence, are privileged information.
"I can't. I don't want to disclose any of that."
And with that, Jenkins strolled out of the media center and into a still uncertain future in Chicago. He's a Bear, as he said, for now.