Wednesday was a busy day at Halas Hall with the Chicago Bears revising their 53-man roster, beginning assembly on a practice squad and starting to look forward to the Sept. 10 season opener against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears held a lighter practice Wednesday afternoon with general manager Ryan Poles and assistant GM Ian Cunningham meeting with reporters afterward.
Poles expressed positivity about his roster rebuilding efforts and laid out specific goals for quarterback Justin Fields. Here are four other things we learned.
The starting left guard was enjoying an encouraging training camp when he hit another roadblock while the team was in Indiana for crossover practices with the Colts earlier this month.
Sometime after completing both joint sessions, Jenkins came down with a leg injury that the Bears have been reluctant to discuss. He was seen hobbling out of the locker room with a boot on his right leg after Saturday’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Poles would not clear up the mystery of what happened to Jenkins and when.
“I’m not going to get into the details with that,” he said. “But we feel like it’s a week-to-week thing.”
Poles did reveal he intends to place Jenkins on IR with a designation to return. That would put him out of game action until at least Oct. 5. It also leaves the Bears continuing to reshuffle the interior of the offensive line.
The Bears sent a sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to acquire Feeney, a versatile interior lineman who can play center or either guard position. Feeney, who was a standout at Sandburg High School and Indiana, has made 64 career starts in six NFL seasons.
Defensive tackle Justin Jones was a teammate of Feeney’s for three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He’s a great guy,” Jones said. “Loves football, loves beer.”
Tight end Cole Kmet, who met Feeney when they played together in a golf event a couple of years back, was asked if he could confirm Jones’ scouting report.
“I can confirm the latter,” Kmet said with a laugh. “For sure.”
Taylor was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday and agreed to sign with the Bears, arriving with an immediate grip on the punt return duties.
Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower was in that role in San Francisco when the 49ers drafted Taylor in the fifth round in 2017. He spoke highly of the three seasons he worked with Taylor.
Taylor has averaged 9.7 yards per return throughout his five-season career with the 49ers and Bengals. He missed the 2019 season with a foot injury.
As comforting as anything, Taylor’s ball security is a strength, something the Bears have been searching for with Velus Jones’ continued issues.
Poles lauded Taylor for his consistency.
“When the ball gets punted, you can go grab a snack and go to the bathroom and come back and you feel confident about it,” Poles said. “That’s the big part.”
In addition to trading for Feeney and signing Taylor, the Bears claimed defensive end Khalid Kareem and safety Quindell Johnson off waivers Wednesday. To clear room on the roster, they waived defensive end Terrell Lewis and safety A.J. Thomas.
Cunningham praised Kareem’s athleticism and motor, and the Bears see him as an immediate contributor in the defensive line rotation. Kareem was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2020 out of Notre Dame and spent last season with the Colts. The Bears got an up-close look at him during the joint practices two weeks ago.
Johnson was a prospect the Bears had their eyes on last spring as an undrafted free agent. He signed with the Los Angeles Rams instead but found a home on the Bears’ 53-man roster after being waived Tuesday.
“He’s a physical, downhill safety,” Cunningham said. “He had 10 career interceptions in college (at Memphis), so he has good ball skills. He’s going to help on special teams, too, so we’re excited.”
The Bears also began assembling their practice squad, finalizing deals with seventh-round draft picks Travis Bell and Kendall Williamson as well as Micah Baskerville, Nsimba Webster, Greg Stroman, Stephen Carlson, Aviante Collins, Robert Burns, Jalen Harris, DeMarquis Gates and Roy Mbaeteka.
As of Wednesday evening, they still had six practice-squad spots open and remained hopeful to use one on veteran quarterback Nathan Peterman.