How Teven Jenkins has reshaped body to fit new scheme originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When Ryan Poles took over as Bears GM he made it clear that changes were coming to the offensive line. The unit was going to be leaner and lighter, and play faster. There would be scheme changes too.
All of those changes ended up having big implications for Teven Jenkins. After Ryan Pace drafted him to be the team’s left tackle of the future, the new regime moved Jenkins back to right tackle, where he played in college. Jenkins knows he has to earn Poles and Matt Eberflus’ trust, and he has to earn his place on the line. So when the team challenged him to reshape his body, he made major lifestyle adjustments to get there, and it’s started to pay off already.
“I already slimmed down right now. I’m down to 325. Last season I was up to 345. I got down to I believe at the end of last season I was 33% body fat. Now I’m down to about 24. So, slimming down is difficult but you got to be disciplined in yourself to stay on the right diet and make sure your body does what it’s supposed to do.”
Part of that discipline has been taking up Pilates. If you’ve never gone through a Pilates workout, Jenkins had only three words to express how grueling they can be: “Oh my god.” Then there’s the diet side of Jenkins’ new lifestyle, and that has been just as tough as the core strength regimens.
“At dinner, I try to cut out carbs,” Jenkins said. “You know how hard it is to cut out mac ‘n’ cheese, rice? It’s a perfect go-to when you’re going with a meal. You’ve gotta cut that out, so it’s mostly protein and vegetables.”
The diet changes don’t stop there, either.
“I’ve been trying to cut out some more alcohol out of my system. I’m trying to get more cleansed out, I guess. And also that does help with your body fat. Instead of drinking all that beerー all that fat just sits on youー you burn it off.”
Arguably the most important factor for Jenkins’ body, however, is how his back holds this season. Last year, the hope was his back injury would not recur after his surgery, and so far that seems to be the case. Jenkins said his back started feeling 100% around Week 13 last year, and now the injury is behind him.
“I have no thought about my back,” Jenkins said. “I trust everything that goes into it, especially the Pilates part. Making my core strong. As soon as you have your core strong, all of that takes away from any back pain you might have. I’m not worried about the back at all.”
It’s still too early to tell how these changes will affect Jenkins’ game though. The Bears are still running around in shorts, and much of the offensive line evaluations won’t begin until the team puts on the pads at practice. The big question for Jenkins is whether he can play with the same power after the body changes.
“You’re gonna be stronger with all that weight because you’re gonna be more stout, of course,” Jenkins said. “But when you start losing weight, now you say, ‘He’s mobile,’ and see how your strength transitions from that 330 to whatever weight you cut off at. That’s where it goes to.”
Until then, Jenkins will continue to do whatever is best for the team as a whole. He’ll work to earn the new regime's trust, and try to prove that he can play in this new scheme.