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Teven Jenkins unshaken by another Bears position change

Teven Jenkins didn't take the Bears' decision to move him to left guard personally

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Teven Jenkins found out about his new reality the same way everyone else did. The Bears' third-year offensive lineman saw the news that the Bears had signed right guard Nate Davis flash across his phone in mid-March. Shortly after, offensive line coach Chris Morgan rang Jenkins to inform him of the plan going forward -- Jenkins, less than a year after moving from right tackle to right guard, would now be moving to left guard.

A year ago, Jenkins might have been frustrated with the decision. Perhaps he would have taken it personally. But the Bears' decision to sign Davis and kick him over to the left side didn't faze him.

"As long as I got a job, I'm going to be happy," Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago. "There wasn't reason to feel any sort of way about it. I've played the left side before. I just took it and ran with it, basically.

"This is just another chance for me to show that I can be versatile at another position."

Jenkins and the Ryan Poles-Matt Eberflus regime got off to a rocky start last season. Jenkins opened the offseason as the starting right tackle but lost his job to rookie Braxton Jones late in OTAs. Jenkins found himself as a third-string tackle during training camp, and there were rumblings that the Bears were trying to move the former second-round pick.

But Jenkins' season turned with another call from Morgan, who rang Jenkins early in the preseason to inform him the Bears were kicking him inside to right guard. Jenkins saw his first NFL action at right guard after just two training camp practices.

Jenkins acquitted himself well in 13 games. He allowed just 12 total pressures and two sacks while playing through a painful hip injury for most of the season. He was the lone bright spot on a shaky offensive line.

A season that began with Jenkins unhappy and unsure of his future as a Bear ended with belief that brighter days were ahead for him in Chicago. He was hopeful but realistic about the possibilities of the upcoming offseason.

“I don’t ever want to be the person to say, ‘Yeah, I have a spot.’ I don’t want to do that because I always want to stay hungry and feel like I still have to chase my job even if I have it secure," Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago when the season ended.

“But I’m happy,” Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago. “I do feel like I have home here.”

That shift in attitude was the product of months of solid play -- including a pancake of 49ers star Nick Bosa -- and an understanding that showing he could play guard and tackle was the best recipe for NFL longevity.

Jenkins' 2022 season can be described as a profile of perseverance. Those on the outside would view overcoming injury, trade rumors, uncertainty, and a position change to have a successful season as an accomplishment to be proud of.

Jenkins doesn't view it that way.

"I really don't. Not that much," Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago. "Because I feel like the people upstairs carry that much weight as well. They want to see results. I'm trying to give them that."

Jenkins' year-end exit interview with coaches and the front office yielded a positive review of his season, but the Bears expect more of him because they know he has the talent to deliver.

"Just a level of consistency on every play and strain," Jenkins said. "Just being the same guy, in and out, on every single play."

Jenkins spent the offseason pouring over film to see how to improve his pass protection at right guard.

Then came the phone call from Morgan and the move to left guard. During OTAs, Jenkins saw the same technical issues at left guard that popped up at right guard last season.

That's to be expected as he transitions to a different side. There will be struggles initially, but the Bears are confident in Jenkins' ability to handle everything and become a pillar of their offensive line. Who Jenkins is is a big reason the Bears believe their offensive line reshuffle will pay off.

"It's who he is. The player he is," offensive line coach Chris Morgan said. "You're talking about that's smart, you know what I mean? You're talking about a player that is talented. You're talking about a player that's willing to move. You're talking about a player -- he's had success as a tackle in certain spots. He's had success as a right guard.

"Now he's going over to left. Teven will be as good as he wants to be."

A year ago, it looked like Chicago would end up just being a footnote in Jenkins' NFL career. A position change, one he sees now as a blessing, might have altered that.

"It was definitely good for me,” Jenkins told NBC Sports Chicago in January. “I’ve never had – in my whole career of football, my whole life – I’ve never been benched until now. Never had any of that. That was a wake-up call. I’ve always been the starter here, the starter there, this or that. I’ve been the guy everywhere I played since growing up. Now, to have to fight for my position, earn a position and keep it. It was good for me. Good to have that struggle.

"For me, it's about when I buy in, I can see how much that will make a difference than to be stubborn and change."

So Jenkins, now at left guard, is ready to plow ahead, determined to make the most of the opportunity the Bears are giving him. His success last season has him entrenched as a fixture of the Bears' 2023 offensive line. But constant change can sometimes lead to doubts about how an employer or organization truly values you.

Jenkins isn't focusing on that anymore.

"It's good," Jenkins said of his relationship with the front office. "I'm not sure any player really knows how to answer that, but it's good."

All that matters is not wasting an opportunity. The rest will take care of itself.

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