NFC North Notes: Bears, OL, Vikings, Barrett

Mentioned in trade rumors to start the week, Teven Jenkins has not practiced with the Bears since Day 1 of training camp. Due to the unknown ailment he is currently battling and last year’s back injury, Jenkins has participated in just one training camp practice since being chosen in the 2021 second round. He does not look to be factoring into Chicago’s first-string tackle mix. Recently signed veteran Riley Reiff does, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects the 11th-year blocker to be the team’s left tackle starter. Reiff spent most of his career as an NFC North left tackle but played on the right side for the Bengals last season. Larry Borom, Chicago’s primary right tackle during his 2021 rookie season, should be considered the favorite to stay in that role, Biggs adds. The Bears ditched their five-year tackle setup last summer, cutting Bobby Massie before the ’21 draft and releasing Charles Leno after selecting Jenkins. Leno has since signed a three-year, $37.5MM extension with the Commanders.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Irv Smith Jr.¬†worked his way back from the knee injury that wiped out his 2021 season, but the third-year Vikings tight end has run into more trouble. Smith underwent thumb surgery, Kevin O’Connell said. While the first-year Minnesota HC added Smith should be back by Week 1, he will miss the preseason. Having let Tyler Conklin hit the market and defect the Jets, the Vikings are counting on Smith to be their starter this season.
  • Jesse Davis has worked as the Vikings’ first-string right guard to start training camp, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. The Vikings used fellow free agent signing Chris Reed as the primary first-stringer here during a recent Davis day off. Minnesota is also incorporating second-round pick Ed Ingram into this competition, per O’Connell. Davis, who shuttled between guard and tackle with the Dolphins for years, signed for one year and $3MM. Reed, a recent Colts backup, signed a two-year, $4.5MM pact. Reed has also worked at center in his initial months with the Vikes.
  • The Packers promoted Jon-Eric Sullivan recently. The veteran executive is now serving as the team’s VP of of player personnel. A Packers staffer since 2004, Sullivan has worked his way up from the regional scouting ranks. When Brian Gutekunst was hired as GM in 2018, Sullivan became the team’s co-player personnel director alongside John¬†Wojciechowski. Green Bay also promoted Chris Gaines and Sean Linton to college scouts.
  • J.T. Barrett is breaking into the coaching ranks. The former Ohio State quarterback is now on the Lions‘ staff as an offensive assistant. Barrett, 27, caught on with the Saints, Seahawks and Steelers as an NFLer but never saw regular-season time. He also spent time with the CFL’s Edmonton Elks.
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