'Work in progress' Leatherwood in 'good spot' as Bears debut looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Alex Leatherwood arrived in Chicago as a former first-round pick looking for a fresh start after being cut by the Raiders. But the Alabama product quickly faded into the background after going on the Non-Football Injury List with a case of mononucleosis.
The Bears opened Leatherwood's 21-day window on Oct. 12, and head coach Matt Eberflus announced the second-year offensive lineman would be placed on the active roster ahead of Sunday's game against the Cowboys in Dallas.
While Leatherwood hasn't had much time on the practice field since the Bears claimed his off waivers prior to Week 1, Eberlfus feels good about where the 23-year-old is heading into his Bears debut.
"It’s good. It’s good. It’s working," Eberflus said Friday of Leatherwood's knowledge of the scheme. "Work in progress. He hasn’t been here that long, you know, he was out for a little bit, then came back. He’s only been back a couple weeks now, so it’s where we would think it is, but he’s working diligently at it with the coaches and we think he’s in a good spot."
On Friday, the Bears ruled right tackle Larry Borom out for the Cowboys game due to a concussion. Veteran tackle Riley Reiff likely will start in Borom's place against a loaded Cowboys defensive front that includes Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.
While Reiff should get the starting nod, the Bears are confident they can put Leatherwood's talent to use even with his limited on-field knowledge of the scheme.
"It's been great. It’s been great," Eberflus said on Oct. 20 of Leatherwood's build-up. "And he’s in a good spot. He’s working himself back in there and we’ll see where it goes physically. But we’re certainly excited to have a talent like that."
The Bears reworked their offensive line before Monday night's beatdown of the New England Patriots. But that line construction didn't last long, as center Lucas Patrick left the game with a toe injury and was placed on injured reserve Thursday.
Borom and Patrick join left guard Cody Whitehair as injured members of the Bears' "best five" on the offensive line.
Left tackle Braxton Jones and right guard Teven Jenkins remain, with Sam Mustipher manning center, Michael Schofield at left guard, and now Reiff at right tackle with Leatherwood waiting in the wings.
It took the Bears' seven weeks to try and place the proper protection around quarterback Justin Fields. But best-laid plans often go to waste in the NFL. Now, the Bears must re-make their offensive line on the fly against one of the best defensive fronts in football.
The Bears still need time to rebuild Leatherwood. He is still early in his re-education at the Chris Morgan offensive line school. But if called on Sunday in Dallas, the Bears are hopeful that mental reps and raw talent will be good enough to survive against Parsons and Lawrence.
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