Jenkins, who is in a ramp up period, only participated in individual drills. The second-year lineman would not disclose specifics of his injury, including whether he got hurt during the team’s first practice July 27, whether he’s still dealing with back issues after undergoing surgery last offseason and what he’s currently recovering from, but estimated that he should be at 100% full health in “a couple of days.”
“It feels really good and I’m not having any discomfort right now, so it’s really good,” Jenkins said after going through Saturday’s practice. “If I had to give myself a percent, probably around 90% and it’s just about working my body back into the feeling of football back again and getting back to that 100% of ‘this is football’ and get ready to go.”
Jenkins said he’s been in the training room for the last nine days and that his prolonged absence was for “the betterment of my health.”
His absence was particularly noticeable at Halas Hall amid trade rumors involving the second-round pick. Earlier in the week, Jenkins replied to a fan on Twitter concerned about his whereabouts to “not believe everything you read” in light of reports of mutual malcontent between the player and the franchise.
“Just one thing, mainly, that I was clashing with coaches,” Jenkins said. “That was totally not true, and I just wanted to tell everybody that you don’t have to believe everything that somebody says. It’s just how it is.”
Throughout the first week and a half of practice, coach Matt Eberflus declined to address specifics of Jenkins’ absence and classified the tackle as “day-to-day.” Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Friday that Jenkins has been present during team meetings and “all in.”
Both Getsy and Eberflus maintain that Jenkins is in competition for a starting spot on the offensive line and have relayed that message to the lineman.
“Really, the same as everybody: ‘Go out there and compete. Everything’s open. Dive in,'” Eberflus said. “Like we’ve said, he’s been great in meetings. He’s been very attentive. He’s been paying attention. He’s been back up at the walk-throughs looking at the plays and understanding his role and the plays. So he’s been good.”
Jenkins was drafted 39th overall in 2021 by former Bears general manager Ryan Pace. After undergoing back surgery before his rookie season, Jenkins was limited to 157 snaps at left tackle last season.
Jenkins said he believes in the Bears organization and expects to be with the team during the regular season. “For me myself, I’m a loyal type of guy,” Jenkins said. “The Chicago Bears, they drafted me so I’m going to stay with the Chicago Bears until whenever it is.”
Jenkins was supplanted at left tackle by rookie fifth rounder Braxton Jones during OTAs and was moved to right tackle with the second team. On the first day of training camp, Jenkins got reps as a swing tackle and said he’s willing to explore a move to guard.
“I’m willing to play wherever they want me,” Jenkins said. “I want to be here in Chicago so I’m playing wherever they need me to play.”
Jenkins’ return came on a day where Chicago finished its ninth practice of training camp down three of its top four wide receivers.
N’Keal Harry sustained a left ankle/foot injury during the first play of team drills and had to be helped off the field by teammates and trainers.
“I just saw him come down,” Eberflus said. “I saw the play and I don’t really know much from there. We’re obviously going to do the evaluation and then once I get that, we can get it back to you. And if it’s longer situation, we’ll let you know what it is. If it’s day-by-day, we’ll say that, too.”
Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. were also non-participants on Saturday. Pringle, one of the Bears’ top free agent signings, has a quad injury, according to Eberflus, and has no timetable for a return, though the team is optimistic his injury will not keep him out for the regular season.
“No., I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” Eberflus said. “It’s longer than day-to-day, so that’s all I can say, but no real timetable to return. But we’re hopeful that it’s a good situation for us.”
Jones Jr. is “day-to-day,” according to Eberflus, who addressed concerns over the team’s wide receiver depth after being without three players in line for the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receiver roles.
“Yeah, you’re always concerned about that,” Eberflus said. “You know, during camp when you have this 90-man roster and guys go down with a soft-tissue stuff or whatever it might be, you put workloads on other guys. And those other guys have opportunity. They have more reps, so you have to be mindful of that. And we were. We’re mindful of that.”