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Bears mulling options at depleted tackle positions

Bears offensive tackles Teven Jenkins and Germain Ifedi.

As they prepare to host the Vikings Monday night at Soldier Field, the Bears are continuing to monitor a fluid situation at both of their offensive tackle positions.

Veteran left tackle Jason Peters sustained a high ankle sprain last Sunday night against the Packers, rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins did not practice Thursday due to a non-COVID illness, and right tackle Larry Borom is among 11 Bears players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

If Peters is unable to play versus the Vikings, the Bears are hopeful that Jenkins will be able to make his first NFL start in the veteran's place.

Jenkins played the final three-and-a-half quarters after Peters was injured in Green Bay, the first game action on offense for the second-round pick after he sat out the first 11 contests following back surgery. It was a difficult assignment for Jenkins, who was assessed four penalties—two for holding and two for false starts—and allowed a sack that resulted in a turnover.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who also struggled in his first extended NFL action Sept. 26 in Cleveland, reached out to Jenkins after the Packers game to offer support and empathy.

"I think Tev wanted to play better than he did, but, of course, that being his first game, he's not going to be perfect," Fields said. "I just told him that everything is going to be fine. I mean, my first start I had one net passing yard. So, it's going to get better, and I just told him to keep his head [up].

"I just reached out to him after the game because I know he was feeling a little bit down. I just reached out to him to see where his head was mentally and just told him to keep working and that everything was going to get better."

The Bears considered moving Jenkins to right tackle earlier this week but ultimately decided against it.

"The plan is to be able to try to keep him at left tackle," said coach Matt Nagy. "It's not easy to go back and play right tackle or to flip flop. So, we'd love to be able to keep him at left tackle … I think you want to be careful with Teven in trying to move him around too much."

At right tackle, Borom has performed well while starting the last five games in place of the injured Germain Ifedi. But the fifth-round pick from Missouri was placed on the COVID-19 list Wednesday, putting his availability for Monday night's game in question.

There has been some good news the past two days: Right tackle Elijah Wilkinson was activated off the COVID-19 list Friday, where he had been since Oct. 28. In addition to Wilkinson, veteran tackle Germain Ifedi also returned this week, practicing for the first time Thursday since injuring his knee Oct. 10 in a win over the Raiders. The Bears have three weeks to activate Ifedi off injured reserve, but coach Matt Nagy said Thursday "there's a chance" Ifedi could play Monday night against the Vikings.

The Bears on Thursday also opened the three-week window to activate nickel back Duke Shelley off injured reserve. The 2019 sixth-round pick from Kansas State returned to practice Thursday for the first time since injuring his hamstring Nov. 21 in a game against the Ravens.

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