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Foreign Territory for Elijah Wilkinson

The Bears right tackle and guard finds playing the other side of the line a little different than where he normally is perched.

Elijah Wilkinson is making the switch from right tackle to left side starter for the Bears for now, if not for the regular season.

While it's common for players to say it's merely a move to the other side of the line, Wilkinson is a little more frank about what it's like moving from right tackle or guard as he gets set for his first Bears game since coming from Denver in free agency.

"It's a difficult thing to do," Wilkinson said. "It's just flipping to the other side—but if you think about it, it's all flipped around. The plays are backward, the call's on the other side, talking to somebody else on the other side. It's very different. It's challenging, you know?"

Wilkinson is no less candid describing his last time playing on the left side.

"Never, bro. Never. You know?" he said. "I've had opportunities in Denver, but you know that they had Garett Bolles there. And obviously competing with him, it was just kind of half-and-half or 60/40 (in camp) in that kind of respect. But not very much. This is probably the most time I've spent on the left, for sure."

Wilkinson isn't doing a poor job in the estimation of Bears coach Matt Nagy, and just needs to be coached up a little by line coach Juan Castillo.

"I thought yesterday (Wednesday) that he had a pretty good day," Nagy said. "He did some one-on-ones and he got beat there a little bit, but other than that, in a team element, I think coming back, he's very talented. He just needs more reps and just to keep learning through Juan."

Nagy thinks some more play reps in Saturday's game with Miami would benefit Wilkinson. So would avoiding the huge error.

"So for him it would be just eliminating the big misses," Nagy said. "He's a good football player and then every now and then there will be one that just kind of might get him.

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"He's learning from that. Now's the time to do that. If he can kind of minimize those—everybody, the greatest tackles in the world have those. Just trying to reduce those and minimize them. He's a great kid. He really wants to do well. He's very coachable. That's all we can ask for. Now he's going to get an opportunity to see what he can do."

Nagy was just glad to have someone who has played tackle available. They've been running guards out onto the field in the position while they've gone through one injury after another. Now it seems the guards are being hit. Right guard James Daniels remains out with a groin injury and on Thursday backup Alex Bars left practice with a knee injury.

Wilkinson wasn't available last week from Wednesday on because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list after being in contact with a teammate who may have it, in this case possibly Eddie Goldman.

"You know, kind of after that initial shock and getting a few tests back it was like, OK, so I'm not (testing positive) and I'm fine, let's get this five days over with you know?," Wilkinson said of his required stay on the reserve list. "I think that was pretty much it with that situation."

Now he can go about trying to secure a starting spot he actually held coming into camp, according to Nagy. The Bears hadn't yet officially made Teven Jenkins the starter before his back injury prior to the start of training camp so technically Wilkinson never lost the spot.

"Yeah, I'm excited," Jenkins said. "First, new city, new team. I'm excited to go out there and play and I know it's (the snaps) pretty limited. They try and keep everybody on a play count but you've got to have fun while you're out there.

"So I'm excited to play. It's been a while. It's been a long time, especially with the (COVID) delay. So I'm excited to get out there."

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