Teven Jenkins

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/4/23

Today’s minor NFL transactions:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

  • Placed on IR: LB De’Jon Harris

Bears RB Khalil Herbert Expected To Return In Week 16; Latest On RG Teven Jenkins

Week 16 is set to bring about both positive and negative developments for the Bears’ offense from a health perspective. Running back Khalil Herbert is expected to make his return from injured reserve, per head coach Matt Eberflus.

Herbert has been sidelined for the past four games due to a hip injury. The timing of his IR placement made him eligible to to be activated in Week 15 at the earliest, which did not take place. The team made it clear that his injury was not expected to be season-ending, however, so a return in time for their Christmas Eve contest against the Bills would not come as a surprise.

The 2021 sixth-rounder flashed potential as a rookie when he totaled 529 scrimmage yards while playing a complimentary role to starter David Montgomery. He has taken a considerable step forward in 2022, posting 643 rushing yards at an average of 6.0 per carry, scoring four touchdowns on the ground. He has added 62 yards and another score in the passing game, making him an important member of Chicago’s league-leading rushing attack.

Especially with Montgomery approaching free agency, Herbert could soon be in line for an even larger workload in the near future. A return to the field would allow him to resume his impressive campaign, while providing the team with another rushing option to take some of the workload off of quarterback Justin Fields, something which should be a welcomed sight (though he has stated an intention of trying to break Lamar Jackson‘s single-season rushing record after becoming just the third QB to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on Sunday).

In other injury news, right guard Teven Jenkins is in danger of missing the remainder of the season. The 24-year-old was carted off the field with a neck injury during the team’s loss to the Eagles. While Eberflus described the situation as “encouraging” after he was released from hospital yesterday, he added that it remains to be seen if Jenkins will be available for the final three games of the year.

“We’ll see,” Eberflus said, via the Associated Press, when asked about the former second-rounder. “We’ll see. I don’t know yet. I don’t know. All those injury reports will come out… or we’ll know more as time goes. But that’s where it is right now.”

After an underwhelming rookie season which led to trade talks and a shift from tackle to guard, the Oklahoma State product has enjoyed a more successful campaign in 2022. Jenkins has registered a PFF grade of 80.0, which ranks fourth amongst all qualifying guards. His loss would thus be a notable one if he is indeed unable to play again this year.

Bears Place G Cody Whitehair On IR, Designate WR N’Keal Harry For Return

The Bears will be without their most experienced offensive line starter for a while. They moved left guard Cody Whitehair to injured reserve Wednesday.

Whitehair, who is Chicago’s longest-tenured O-lineman by a considerable margin, suffered a knee injury during the team’s Week 4 loss to the Giants. The Bears are also opening N’Keal Harry‘s IR-return window. Harry will return to practice Wednesday, starting his 21-day activation clock. The Bears are expecting Whitehair back this season, Matt Eberflus said.

Also the only Bears blocker on a notable contract (five years, $51.25MM), Whitehair has been a starter throughout his seven-year run with the franchise. The Bears took Whitehair in the 2016 second round, and after an extensive run at center, the team moved the Kansas State product to guard. This will be a rare stay off the Bears’ 53-man roster for Whitehair, who has missed only two games in his career.

The rebuilding team has been using Lucas Patrick and Teven Jenkins in a right guard timeshare, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects that to cease for the time being. Patrick will likely slide to left guard to replace Whitehair, leaving Jenkins — whom the Bears have moved around the formation since drafting him in the 2021 second round — on the right side. A poor practice led Jenkins, who had started the first two games at right guard for the Bears, to the bench, Biggs adds. But the Oklahoma State product remained in the team’s rotation over the past two weeks. Whitehair’s injury will open the door to an extended audition for the player the previous regime viewed as a potential long-term left tackle.

Placed on IR shortly after roster cutdown, Harry would be eligible for an a Week 5 return. It remains to be seen if the Bears will deem their offseason trade acquisition ready. Harry underwent ankle surgery in mid-August and was believed to be facing a two-month recovery timetable. The Bears designating the ex-Patriots first-rounder for return certainly appears to show Harry is on schedule.

The Bears’ passing attack has plunged into a strange place. Justin Fields has set 21st-century lows to start his second season, with his 34 completions and 67 attempts both checking in below any quarterback this century through four games (among four-game starters). Any receiving help the second-year quarterback can get will be a bonus. The Bears did not make big-ticket receiver investments this offseason, instead taking a number of fliers. Harry, obtained for a 2024 seventh-round pick, was among them.

Harry began both the 2019 and ’21 seasons on IR and has a history of ankle trouble; an ankle malady led the Arizona State alum to IR as a rookie. Harry’s initial NFL injury threw off his development in New England’s then-complex offense. He started last season on IR because of a shoulder issue. The big-bodied target caught just 12 passes for 184 yards last season.

Bears Still Open To Trading OL Teven Jenkins?

Teven Jenkins hasn’t had the start to his NFL career that he or the Bears had hoped for. His name been included in trade talk recently as a result, leaving open the possibility that his second pro season would take place elsewhere. 

[RELATED: Bears Searching For O-Line Help?]

The 2021 second-rounder was seen as a long-term solution at one of the team’s tackle spots by former GM Ryan Pace. Instead, his struggles on the edge left him practicing with the second-team offense during the spring. Failing to impress the new front office, led by Ryan Poles, the 24-year-old quickly found himself on the roster bubble.

The Bears entertained trade calls on the Oklahoma State alum earlier this month, a telling sign given his age and draft status. Nothing sufficiently tempting materialized, given his continued presence on the roster, but that could change. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that a deal sending Jenkins elsewhere is still “certainly possible” (video link).

Aside from factors like his affordability on a rookie deal for three more years, Chicago could hold on to Jenkins if he performs well at right guard, where he was recently deployed. He has an opportunity to win a starting role on the inside, with recent signee Riley Reiff the likely candidate at RT. According to his new offensive coordinator, Jenkins has embraced the opportunity to establish a first-team spot at the less glamorous position.

“Teven’s done a great job of accepting that challenge at right guard,” Luke Getsy said (Twitter link via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times). If he impresses at that position, a release would become even less likely than it already is. A trade, likewise, would also be less of a consideration from the Bears’ perspective as roster cuts are finalized and the team looks to take a much-needed step forward on offense.

Bears Searching For O-Line Help?

The Bears’ offensive line has generated a number of questions this offseason, and resolutions have not come just yet. Buzz around the NFL connects the team to pursuing outside help in trades, Adam Jahns of The Athletic writes (subscription required).

An effort to obtaining guard help, in particular, has circulated, per Jahns, even though Teven Jenkins may be moving close to becoming the starter at right guard. The former second-round pick has gone from tackle to trade rumors to guard this offseason, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes the Bears have been pleased by the second-year blocker’s transition thus far (Twitter link). The team also signed veteran Michael Schofield, who could be a backup at multiple spots given his tackle past, just before training camp.

Chicago also added Riley Reiff at the start of camp, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes the veteran has ceded the first-string right tackle spot to Larry Borom — an eight-game 2021 starter. The latter, a 2021 fifth-round pick, has worked opposite fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones in recent days. Despite being a rookie out of Division I-FCS Southern Utah, Jones is being given “every opportunity” to win Chicago’s blindside job, though Biggs wonders if the two young blockers are competing against one another for a spot opposite Reiff.

Reiff, 33, counts just $3MM against Chicago’s cap, but that amount is fully guaranteed. No guarantees are present in Schofield’s veteran-minimum deal. Reiff has started 139 career games, working mostly as a left tackle. Although, he did slide to the right side to accommodate Taylor Decker in 2016 and play RT in Cincinnati last season.

The two other veterans in this mix — Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick — are not vying for roles. Whitehair is locked in as Chicago’s left guard, and Patrick — one of a few ex-Packers OC Luke Getsy brought with him this offseason — is in place at center. Patrick, however, is still recovering from thumb surgery. He is not a lock to be ready by Week 1, with Biggs adding the Bears expect him back sometime in September. Patrick being sidelined into the regular season could intensify Chicago’s interest in adding interior help.

Holding the No. 7 waiver priority spot, the Bears will be in a good position to land O-linemen Wednesday — after teams’ rosters are trimmed from 80 to 53 — but new GM Ryan Poles looks to be seeing what it will take to add a veteran upgrade ahead of that point.

Bears Shift Teven Jenkins To Guard

Having seen time at left tackle and right tackle since being drafted in the 2021 second round, Teven Jenkins saw injuries interrupt his rise to the Bears’ starting lineup last year. And he has failed to impress the new Chicago regime this offseason.

With a path to a first-string tackle gig not opening, Jenkins is now working as a guard. The Bears have shifted the Oklahoma State product inside, Matt Eberflus said (via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns, on Twitter). This comes after the team used Jenkins exclusively at right tackle in their preseason opener Saturday, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com adds.

Since his 36-snap right tackle outing against the Chiefs, Jenkins has been at guard. After working as a backup right guard Monday, Jenkins repped with the Bears’ first-stringers at the position Tuesday, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, who views that usage as an open door to Jenkins being the team’s right guard starter in their second preseason game. The Bears had been using Michael Schofield as their starting right guard. Despite Schofield’s status as an 81-game starter over the past seven seasons, his veteran-minimum salary — agreed to at the start of training camp — with no guaranteed money does not point to entrenched starter status.

This has marked an eventful odyssey for Jenkins since he was drafted. After trading third- and sixth-round picks to move up for him — in a draft that had already included a trade-up for Justin Fields that cost a future first — the Bears released longtime left tackle Charles Leno. Jenkins’ back injury, which required surgery, changed the team’s 2021 plans. Jason Peters entered the equation. While Jenkins did return late in the season, he did not establish momentum this offseason.

The Bears are using fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones and 12th-year veteran Riley Reiff at tackle. The team also has 2021 rookie-year starter Larry Borom as an option behind the first-string duo. Jenkins was mentioned in trade rumors earlier during camp. For now, however, he will be tried as an inside option on a remade offensive line. This marks a rather late transition for Jenkins, who played exclusively at tackle at Oklahoma State. Schofield, 31, would seem to represent insurance in case the younger blocker is not ready for such a transition.

Latest On Bears’ Offensive Line

Previously a possibility at left tackle, Riley Reiff now looks to be settling in on the right side. The Bears moved the longtime NFC North left tackle-turned-Bengals RT off the blind side recently, with Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com noting rookie Braxton Jones has taken most of the left-side reps over the past several days.

Reiff, 33, played right tackle with the Bengals last season, prior to going down with a mid-December ankle injury that shelved him for the team’s unlikely Super Bowl run, and moved to the right side in 2016 to accommodate Lions first-round pick Taylor Decker. In every other season, Reiff has primarily been a left tackle.

Jones and Reiff starting would leave Chicago with two new tackle starters. The team’s top 2021 left tackle, Jason Peters, remains a free agent. The player the previous regime hoped would commandeer that post, Teven Jenkins, has not done so. The 2021 second-round pick has battled injuries throughout his career. While Jenkins has returned to practice, he has lined up with the Bears’ second- and third-string lines since doing so, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic tweets.

As Jones began to show starter readiness during the Bears’ offseason program, Jenkins has already popped up in trade rumors. The Bears chose Jones 168th overall out of Division I-FCS Southern Utah. This would obviously be a big jump from his 2021 gig.

Larry Borom worked as Chicago’s primary right tackle last year, but the 2021 fifth-round pick is playing behind Reiff presently. Pro Football Focus graded Borom outside its top 60 tackles last season. Although O-line development usually takes some time, the Bears’ new coaching staff may be prepared to let the Mizzou product learn from the bench behind Reiff (139 career starts). Borom has been working at both tackle spots, suggesting a potential path as the team’s swing backup.

The team exited the 2020 season with one of the league’s most stable tackle tandems, with Charles Leno and Bobby Massie having started together for five years. The Bears, however, released Leno and did not re-sign Massie during the 2021 offseason. Leno is now with Washington, tied to an extension signed earlier this year, while Chicago searches for long-term replacements. The Bears are not expected to contend this season, but Justin Fields preparing for his first full campaign as the team’s starting quarterback certainly makes tackle performance important through a longer-term lens.

Additionally, late-July pickup Michael Schofield is ticketed to be the team’s top right guard, Cronin adds. Mainstay Cody Whitehair remains the Bears’ other guard starter, while ex-Packer Lucas Patrick is poised to be the Bears’ new center. A former Super Bowl starter at right tackle with the Broncos, Schofield has been a serviceable guard in the years since. The Chargers used him as a guard starter in 49 games over the past five years.

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.

Bears Discussing T Teven Jenkins In Trades

The Bears taking Teven Jenkins in the 2021 second round has not led him to be a surefire answer at one of their tackle spots. With a new regime in place, the team looks to be exploring what it could get for one of the previous regime’s top investments.

Jenkins’ name has come up in trade talks, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Bears have both received calls and held trade discussions on Jenkins, who has three years left on his contract.

After Jenkins went through an injury-abbreviated rookie season, he did not finish this offseason working primarily with the first unit. The Bears were using Braxton Jones, a rookie fifth-rounder, at left tackle and Larry Borom, a 2021 fifth-round choice, as their first-string tackles. Chicago has since signed Riley Reiff. The 10-year veteran has worked as a starter throughout his career, and he should be expected to be a starter at one of the Bears’ tackle spots. Reiff has played both left and right tackle as a pro.

Chosen 39th overall last year, Jenkins was ticketed to be one of the Bears’ tackle starters as a rookie. The Ryan Pace regime traded a third-round pick and its No. 52 overall selection to move up 13 spots for the Oklahoma State blocker. But a back injury suffered during last year’s training camp changed the team’s plans. Jenkins underwent surgery last August, leading the team to go with veteran Jason Peters on the edge, and did not debut until late November. Jenkins did make two starts as a rookie, but the Bears fired both Pace and Matt Nagy at season’s end. The Ryan PolesMatt Eberflus regime does not appear as high on Jenkins.

A possible path for Jenkins at guard has also surfaced, potentially giving the 6-foot-6 blocker some additional value in trades. Should a team move to acquire Jenkins, it would have him on base salaries worth $1MM, $1.4MM and $1.8MM through 2024. The Bears would save just more than $1MM if they moved him.

NFC North Rumors: Gafford, Graham, Bears, Jenkins

Packers’ offseason acquisition Rico Gafford has been asked to move from wide receiver back to his original position of cornerback, according to Matt Schneidman who did an early projection of how the Packers’ 53-man roster could play out for The Athletic this week. Gafford is a speedy player whose versatility led the Raiders to use him as a Lamar Jackson stand in on scout team before playing the Ravens when he was in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.

Gafford was an undrafted cornerback out of Wyoming back in 2018. Over two years of play with the Cowboys, he recorded 6 interceptions, 11 passes defensed, and 3 forced fumbles at the collegiate level. After signing initially with the Titans, Gafford was cut before training camp and signed with the Raiders who asked him to change his primary position to wide receiver because of his speed. He played mostly special teams in Oakland but did catch two balls including a 49-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr in 2019.

Green Bay has a history of moving undrafted wide receivers to cornerback, most recently in 2016, when the Packers convinced University of Miami wide receiver Herb Waters to move to cornerback due to a couple of injuries in the position room. More famously, the Packers persuaded another former Hurricanes’ receiver, Sam Shields, to switch to cornerback after he went undrafted in 2010. Shields was named the third cornerback on the depth chart after the preseason, behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, and went on to start 62 of the 80 games he would play in a Packers’ uniform over a seven-year stay in Green Bay.

Here are a few more rumors out of the NFC North, all of these coming out of the Windy City:

  • After making his NFL debut late into the season last year, Bears cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. could have a shot at a starting spot in the slot over free agent addition Tavon Young in the upcoming season, according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN. A sixth-round pick in 2021, Graham struggled early to make the team, spending most of the season on the practice squad. In a late-December game against the Vikings, though, Graham heard his name called as the Bears’ roster was depleted by injuries and COVID-19. An impressive performance in that game made his promotion permanent as he spent the rest of the season on the active roster. The Bears used their highest draft pick this year to select Kyler Gordon in the second round to start opposite Jaylon Johnson on the outside. This will leave Graham to compete with the former Raven, Young, in the slot. Young, once the highest-paid nickel corner in the NFL, has suffered multiple torn ACLs and a neck injury that have forced him to miss the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons, as well as most of the 2020 season. Even if Graham can’t beat out Young to start, the Bears will be glad to have him as a strong back-up option.
  • The Bears announced some updates to their staff this week, according to Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic. The team has announced Reese Hicks as the new West Coast scout, Tom Bradway as the new Northeast scout, and Ryan Cavanaugh as the team’s new Midwest scout. In addition to those personnel positions, Chicago announced two moves in the analytics department. Krithi Chandrakasan will be the director of football analytics and Ryan Hubley will serve as the football systems developer.
  • With recent news that the Bears will look at 2022 fifth-round draft pick Braxton Jones at left tackle in camp, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reminded readers that when Teven Jenkins was drafted in the second round last year, many saw him as a guard at the NFL-level. If Jones does end up impressing on the blindside this summer, Jenkins could find himself filling the Bears’ hole at right guard.