LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears are onto Plan B on the offensive line.
On Monday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that left guard Teven Jenkins suffered a leg injury that could force him to miss time early in the season. The Chicago Tribue was the first to report Jenkins' injury.
With Jenkins out, the Bears had to reshuffle their first-team offensive line during Monday's walk-through at Halas Hall. Veteran interior offensive lineman Lucas Patrick returned to practice Monday after a two-week absence. With Patrick back, the Bears bumped starting center Cody Whitehair over to left guard and had Patrick man center.
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Running back Khalil Herbert said the shift in the Bears' offensive line won't significantly impact him or the rushing attack.
"It doesn’t do anything different for me," Herbert said Monday about the new-look line. "I’m very comfortable with any of those guys in the room lining up in front of me. Half the time during practice, I won’t notice until midway through practice. All those guys, they do a great job of rotating. We’ve done it all camp. So I’m very comfortable with anybody in front of me. I feel like they can get the job done."
Herbert is close with Jenkins. The two came into the league together, and the running back knows how frustrating it is for the third-year offensive lineman to deal with another injury.
That being said, Herbert said Jenkins is in good spirits.
"He’s good," Herbert said. "Just keep his head up and do what you gotta do to get back."
The Bears struggled to find an effective offensive line combination last season. You could argue that their "best five" never took the field together, with Riley Reiff not taking over at right tackle until the week after Patrick, their best option at center, suffered a season-ending injury.
The Bears rebuilt their offensive line in the offseason and entered OTAs with a clean "best five." That five of Braxton Jones, Jenkins, Whitehair, Nate Davis, and Darnell Wright took a grand total of seven snaps together during padded team drills in training camp, with Davis missing a large portion of camp with an injury.
Jenkins' injury comes just as Davis is ramping up to full participation. With Jenkins potentially missing the first few weeks of the regular season, the Bears now must scramble to find a new "best five."
If Patrick and Whitehair are both healthy, the optimal unit is the one the Bears trotted out Monday at Halas Hall. But Patrick has missed time in camp, and Whitehair left last Thursday's practice with a hand injury.
Jenkins' injury shines a bright light on the Bears' lack of quality offensive line depth. Patrick is the Bears' best option as a backup guard or center. Now that he's moved into the first-team fold, the Bears are one injury to Patrick, Whitehair, or Davis away from Alex Leatherwood or Ja'Tyre Carter entering the fray to protect Justin Fields.
That's not a situation they planned to be in on Aug. 21.