Teven Jenkins

How Bears LG Teven Jenkins altered training regimen to stay healthy this season

Jenkins has had injury issues in each of his two years with the Bears

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When the Bears drafted Teven Jenkins with the No. 39 overall pick in the 2021 draftー one day after drafting Justin Fieldsー the prevailing thought at Halas Hall was that the Bears had found their new franchise left tackle to protect their new franchise quarterback. In just two years though, plans for Jenkins have changed drastically.

Jenkins has been in and out of the Bears lineup for several reasons, including position swaps, but the one thing that’s held him back more than anything has been a laundry list of injuries. Jenkins’ career began with a nagging back injury that required back surgery. He didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 13 of his rookie year, when he played two special teams snaps. It took two more weeks for Jenkins to draw his first start. Last year, Jenkins moved around the line and finally settled in at right guard, but a hip injury cost him a couple of games in the middle of the season. Then Jenkins suffered a scary looking neck injury against the Eagles that cost him three more games.

Now Jenkins is the team's left guard. When he’s healthy, Jenkins has been dominant in run blocking. At times he looks like the nastiest player on the field. The problem is the injuries have mounted in two seasons, so he hasn’t had opportunities to stack many starts together. Jenkins wants to change that this year, so he’s undergone a new training regimen.

“Basically lengthening and strengthening muscles and working on all the small muscles that you never think about,” Jenkins said. “It’s like those small anterior muscles around my neck, to build that up so nothing happens again, so I don’t get stingers, so I don’t get another lapse of whatever happened when we played the Eagles, so I don’t have anything happen to my back again. I’m doing those muscles around the spine that make it a lot stronger so those things don’t flare up.”

It’s a joint effort of working independently with fitness programs like pilates, and working at Halas Hall with the team’s trainers.

“The strength coach here is really good,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins has someone to lean on for the mental aspect of trying to stay healthy, too. Going through multiple rehabs takes a toll, and Jenkins said his wife is always there if his spirits need lifting.

“Mentally, she’s the one that has been helping me out a lot. I just go to her when I have any troubles and she reassures me anytime I have any problem.”

There are several questions the Bears will need answered for their offensive line to be successful, beyond Jenkins’ ability to stay healthy. Can Cody Whitehair return to Pro Bowl form at center? Can Darnell Wright step in and play reliably as a right tackle? Can Braxton Jones take a step forward in his development as a second-year left tackle?

They hope Jenkins’ new training plan will answer at least one of those questions.

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