Jenkins knows he must 'ramp up process' to become RG Bears need originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
SEATTLE – The start of his career has taught Teven Jenkins the hard truths of the NFL. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are drafted -- you’re either produce or you get left behind.
Jenkins knows that no one will care that Thursday night in Seattle was his first time playing a live game at right guard. It doesn’t matter that he just started learning the position Monday. He needs to learn everything and be able to execute it at a high level. That needs to happen yesterday.
“I felt like I did good,” Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago after the Bears’ 27-11 win over the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. “It’s just, overall, I have some good things, bad things to clean up, and that might be because of my adjustment period going to guard.
“The NFL is about production now. They don’t care how long it takes, it needs to happen now. I need ramp up my process to go from tackle to guard.”
The Bears first tried Jenkins out at right guard Monday during a light practice. By Tuesday, he was working with the first-team offense, and he got the start Thursday between center Sam Mustipher and right tackle Larry Borom.
Jenkins doesn’t remember his initial reaction when the Bears asked him to kick inside, just that it’s a challenge he’s prepared to handle head-on like an oncoming blitzer.
“It was all positive because I was happy about it because I know this is going to give me a chance to get on the field,” Jenkins said, admitting that right guard is his best shot to be a starter. “And it’s probably good for my career as well to show my versatility.”
Jenkins’ first venture as a guard had positives and negatives. He got pushed around by defensive tackle Poona Ford on one play, but he recovered long enough to give quarterback Justin Fields enough time to get rid of the ball and avoid the sack. As a run blocker, Jenkins looked the part as a road-grading guard.
Making the transition from tackle to guard in the Bears’ wide-zone offense, and doing so as quickly as possible, won’t be easy. Jenkins knows he’s got a lot to study, absorb, and perfect in a short time.
But if the gravity of the task at hand is weighing on Jenkins, he isn’t showing it.
“Still getting the playbook and learn all the guard’s responsibilities, steps, and all my responsibilities because, at a certain point, I was still a little hazy at certain things,” Jenkins said when discussing what his next steps are in his rapid progression. “But I know that I trust Sam Mustipher, I trust Larry Borom to always put me in a good spot. Having trust in those guys and them having trust in me is just assuring myself that I can be able to do it.”
Head coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, and offensive line coach Chris Morgan praised Jenkins’ mental processing this week as the transition kicked off. After playing tackle for his entire life, the Bears are asking Jenkins to see offensive line plan from an entirely different viewpoint.
Jenkins thought he settled in as the game went on Thursday. As the 24-year-old works to become an effective NFL guard in record time, his eyes hold the key to this gambit being a success.
“The use of my eyes,” Jenkins said when asked about the difficulties of the transition. “Because at tackle, you get so fixated on, like you’re on the outside and you can the whole thing basically out there because there is nothing blocking you. Now you have a defensive end and a corner that you have to watch out for too, and that’s from like an all-closed stance. Just basically trying to use my eyes is what I’m trying to do.”
For a second-round pick drafted as the presumed franchise left tackle to not only agree to transition to guard but do so with excitement is rare. Almost unheard of. But after having the first year of his career devoured by a back injury and rumors about his maturity, Jenkins just wants to do one thing: Play ball as a Chicago Bear.
“I’m actually back to myself,” Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago. “The past year, that’s the only injury I’ve ever had. I never knew life without football. So, it’s always great to be back out there.”
With that, Teven Jenkins strolled out of the visiting locker room in the bowels of Lumen Field and headed for the bus to start studying. He and the Bears have no time to waste.