Chicago Bears: What does back surgery mean for Teven Jenkins?

Chicago Bears - Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Mitchell Schwartz
Chicago Bears – Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

How other offensive linemen fared with back surgeries

The first player that popped into my head was former Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns’ right tackle, Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz had back surgery on February 24, 2021. He was hoping to return for the playoffs, but could not get healthy enough with just rehab. Although older and has had more wear and tear on his body by playing in the NFL for eight years, Schwartz is still not on an NFL roster.

I could not find specifics on what Schwartz’s injury was or what type of back surgery he had, but he mentioned the recovery time was not too long. That might be the case, but as someone who is still going through rehabilitation from a major surgery that does not involve my spine, I can tell you that recovery and rehabilitation to full strength are not the same things.

Looking at Schwartz’s timeline, he still is not on an NFL roster and had shared rehabilitation videos from May and as most recently as July 30, 2021. That July 30, 2021 video was a lightweight sled workout. The average person would likely struggle with this exercise, but this should not be too difficult for an NFL lineman. We are talking five months since his surgery in February.

The good news is that back surgeries are not ruining the careers of offensive linemen as they were in the past. This is due to better technology and surgical practices. In a report done in 2011 — 10 years ago and technology is even better now — researchers gathered information on linemen from 1982 to 2009. Of the 66 linemen included, 14 were treated without surgery and 52 had surgery. 36 of those players who had surgery were starters and 33 of them returned to that status after surgery.

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Final thoughts:

Again, I am not a doctor or medical professional, however, after looking into this situation, I would not expect to see Teven Jenkins play for the Chicago Bears in 2021 unless the team makes the playoffs or is at least fighting for the playoffs late in the season. Just like Justin Fields, Jenkins’ future is bright and he should be able to recover from this situation. Rushing him back too early would not make sense. Let us hope this does not turn into another wasted Ryan Pace (and mine and many analysts’) draft pick.