(670 The Score) During this bye week, Bears coach Matt Eberflus, general manager Ryan Poles and their staffs plan to align on a vision for how to use their personnel in the final four regular-season games. One change that could take place is at right tackle.
The Bears may give second-year offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood a starting opportunity in what would represent an audition of significance for his future. Leatherwood was a first-round pick of the Raiders in 2021 who fell out of favor with the new regime in Las Vegas and was surprisingly released at the end of training camp.
Leatherwood, 23, was then claimed off waivers by the Bears in early September and saw his first action with Chicago in the team's 28-19 loss to Green Bay on Sunday. He rotated in for 10 plays at right tackle with veteran Riley Reiff.
“For sure, certainly on a rotational basis,” Eberflus said Monday when asked about Leatherwood’s role. “I can say that for sure. We’ll see where it goes from there and put our best guys out there.
“We’ll let it grow naturally and see where it goes in practice and see how he performs in the games and if he keeps performing like he did, he’ll get more reps and more reps and compete for that spot.”
Leatherwood didn't play in any of the Bears’ first 12 games this season. He had an acclimation period upon being claimed off waivers just prior to the regular season, then was set back by an illness that kept him away from Halas Hall for a month.
Now, Leatherwood is caught up and looking to earn his place with the Bears.
“Any time you start with a new team, whether you get traded or get cut, whatever that is, you kind of need a complete reset,” Bears offensive line coach Chris Morgan said last week. “His situation, he didn’t have a lot of time because it’s during the season.
“But he’s just done a good job kind of learning our vocabulary, our plays, techniques, learning the guys next to him that he’s working with. But he’s done a good job.”
As the Bears (3-10) hope to compete at a much higher level in 2023, their offensive line will need significant upgrades. What comes next at right tackle is uncertain. Larry Borom, a fifth-round pick of Chicago in 2021, started the first seven games at right tackle before Reiff worked the last six as the starter.
With four games remaining, the Bears’ curiosity about Leatherwood could take priority as he may land a new chance with his new team.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.
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