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Latest example of Teven Jenkins’ OTA “demotion” where Matt Eberflus sends a message

Does Eberflus send a message to Jenkins with the move to the second team? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST — Matt Eberflus told us to “don’t read” Jaylon Johnson running with the Bears’ second-string in their second week of OTA. Instead, Eberflus said it’s about conditioning and finding out where Johnson fits his defense best.

Sure enough, Johnson was back with the first team on Wednesday in the Bears’ final OTA practice. While the absence of rookie Kyler Gordon could have played a part in that, Eberflus said he was pleased with Johnson, who practiced well on Wednesday, including a stellar pass breakup against Velus Jones Jr.

“We just wanted to see where he was,” Eberflus said of the decision to bring Johnson back with those. “He came in pretty good shape. I mean, he was in good shape when he came in, and we were just assessing him where he was, and he’s done a great job with that. He’s learning the defense.

“It takes him a while to learn defense because he had just arrived, so it takes a few days to figure out, ‘Hey, what’s that call? What’s that call?’ And he did a great job. He played very well today, I think.

As Johnson found his way back to the first team, another critical bear was “demoted” on Wednesday when right tackle Teven Jenkins was seen running with the two. Rookie Braxton Jones was the team’s first left tackle while Larry Borom moved from left tackle to right tackle.

Once again, Eberflus was adamant that the decision to have Jenkins on Channel 2 on Wednesday was no big deal. Instead, the Bears simply mix and match units all over the roster.

“So we had six practices, and then we had six to seven at that point when we made the change, and we wanted to change combinations,” Eberflus said of putting Jones with ones. “That’s not the only thing we’ve changed from tackle to tackle. We’ve moved some receivers around. Some guys are playing X. Some guys are playing Z.

“We adjusted some guys on the defensive line just to really find out, to have a real assessment of what’s best for us in training camp. We might like the other combination. We might like this combination. We might not love either of them. Now let’s move on to the one that’s here in training camp. So we’re going to figure out which is the best thing, and that’s really just more information for the coaches to find out what’s best for the Bears.

“We’re just trying to find the best combinations of people, especially when you look at the offensive line. Who are the top five guys there so that we can be successful, and that creates competition when you do that, you know when you “I’m moving guys. Who can operate in different places and who can really execute?

Eberflus suggests it’s not something to spend too much time on, and he might be right.
But he could also send a clear message to players that he knows he has to play at a high level for the Bears to have a chance of success this fall.

Johnson is a budding star corner and will be the top member of what Eberflus hopes will be a much improved secondary this season.

After an injury-shortened rookie season, Jenkins returned to right tackle this offseason, lost weight and believes he can be a force in the Bears’ new wide zone program. Given the state of the Bears’ offensive line depth chart, Jenkins has to be good this season or the offense will have little chance of gaining ground. The Bears have a question mark at right guard and unproven tackles at Jenkins and Borom. If that group doesn’t come together, Justin Fields will spend more time backtracking and picking up grass from his face mask than throwing touchdown passes.

The Bears drafted Jones in the fifth round in April. He’s a development tackle who needs to get bigger and stronger to be a reliable tackle in the NFL. I find it hard to see Eberflus entrusting Fields’ blinding to a rookie tackle. This could not only doom the Bears’ season, but also seriously hamper the development of a talented young quarterback.

Much like Johnson’s demotion, Jenkins’ decision must be about sending a clear message to a player the Bears rely on. For Johnson, he is not only a vital part of any success in 2022, but also one of the best players on the team.

Eberflus talked about building a new culture in Chicago. The best way to sustain a winning culture is to entice your best players to sign up.

For Jenkins, the Bears need him to be able to hold on on the right side to give Fields and the offense a chance. Chicago has too many question marks on the offensive line as it stands. The Bears rely on Jenkins.

It’s June and it’s entirely possible that Eberflus is just moving guys around to test things. But the two notable ‘demotions’ show a manager who knows which players need to be at their best to get his tenure off to a good start.

Johnson and Jenkins have spoken of wanting to prove themselves to the new regime. The young cornerback seems to have overcome this obstacle. Now it’s Jenkins’ turn.

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