Bears coach Matt Eberflus was pleased with Teven Jenkins' play during Thursday's preseason game in Seattle. The second-year pro started at right guard and played 23 snaps after having just a few days of practicing at the position.
"He did a good job in the game; he played a solid game," Eberflus said. "You think about that for a second, coming in there for a couple of days and then starting in there and playing. We were impressed. He did a nice job. Now he's got to continue to grow at the position. Like everybody else on the team, he's got a lot to work on. But he had a good first outing in there."
Jenkins ran with the first team offense again in Saturday's practice. While the second-year pro has stepped up at the position, Eberflus will see how the rest of the preseason plays out before solidifying his spot.
"There's a lot of things that can happen," Eberflus said. "Like we said, we're changing combinations, adjusting combinations. As you have seen over the course of training camp, a lot of things have changed. There's a lot of adjustment going on. So, it's about guys that can sustain the performance, that can sustain execution, and then take that to the first week. So, we'll let that play out and see where it is."
As far as the right tackle position, Larry Borom and veteran Riley Reiff have both spent time in the starting role. Reiff was with the first-team offense early in camp, but on Saturday he ran with the second team at left tackle. The former Bengal and Viking has 10 years of NFL experience, spending most of it at the left tackle position. But Borom was the starting right tackle against the Seahawks and continued in the role at practice.
"He's been consistent. He's been relatively consistent and he's doing a good job in there," Eberflus said. "Right now, he's in that position as a starter, and then he's got competition behind him, and we'll see what happens. We'll see if he can sustain that execution all the way through."
Eberflus announced that rookie safety Jaquan Brisker has a right hand injury and has no timetable for a return. The Bears coach said Brisker sustained the injury last Saturday in the team's first preseason game against the Chiefs.
"It was a situation where sometimes you wake up with these hand injuries and it just shows up," Eberflus said. "It feels like you just kinda tweaked it a little bit and all of a sudden the next day, there it is."
Brisker played 25 snaps and on defense and three on special teams in his preseason debut.
No decision yet
Eberflus is not ready to announce whether the starters will play in the Bears' final preseason game in Cleveland next Saturday. In the team's first preseason contest against the Chiefs, the first-team offense played 18 snaps through two drives. On Thursday in Seattle, the starters were on the field for just one series consisting of nine snaps.
"We're still working through that, literally we're still talking about that," Eberflus said. "We had a conversation, one conversation so far about it. We'll continue to work through that. We're not ready to make that proclamation yet of what's going to happen in that game."
The Bears spent significant time working on situational football in Saturday's practice, with a focus on the red zone. Eberflus said the team started in the fringe area and was able to get three whole groups out on the field, allowing each unit to go up against a different line.
The Bears did most of the work in the scoring zone, playing a series from the 25 and another from the 15. But Eberflus ended practice with late-game situations.
"We flipped it around, had a two-minute drive at the end where we needed a field goal," Eberflus said. "That was excellent. We only had one timeout, that was really good, we used it. Those situations are hard, when you're in those situations to get that extra five yards to kick the field goal. That was good. We ended with end-of-game stuff, the very last plays, and that's an important part for what we want to get done in the practice. So it was good. I'm very excited about that."
But it was the defense that had the highlight of practice. Defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga came up with a pick-six in team drills near the end zone, running the ball 80 yards for the score. Most of the defense left the sideline to run with him, spraying Tonga with water bottles. The group celebrated in the end zone after the play.
"I thought our guys did a good job blocking. On those interceptions, we turn them into returns, like a punt return," Eberflus said. "So, everybody has a job to do. When you want to score on defense, you have to have it orchestrated. So, the guys did an outstanding job of orchestrating that return, and it was instantaneous reaction. There was no hesitation, everybody went to their job, we all got blocks, stayed on our blocks, and he returned it all the way."