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Alex Leatherwood made his Bears debut in Sunday’s loss to the Packers, where he rotated in at right tackle with starter Riley Reiff.
Leatherwood only played 10 of 52 snaps on offense, but he was as close to perfect as one can get. According to Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood didn’t give up a single pressure in seven pass block opportunities. And he was in the game on some of quarterback Justin Fields’ biggest plays of the afternoon.
“It was great, Alex played well,” coach Matt Eberflus said Monday. “First action in there, I think it was 10 plays. Overall, really nice performance by him. It doesn’t surprise us. We were anxious to get him in there and see how he would do. But it doesn’t surprise us because he’s had great maturation in the system, working inside and outside. He did really well in practice. So we saw it in practice. We were expecting to see it in the game, but we were excited to see it.”
Leatherwood, a 2021 first round pick by the Raiders, was claimed off waivers by the Bears in August. Unfortunately, Leatherwood dealt with a bout of mononucleosis, where he lost 25 pounds and needed to regain his strength after a brief stint on injured reserve.
“It kind of affects your whole health, that month being off,” Leatherwood said, via The Athletic. “Just trying to get back into playing shape, I feel like that was the hardest part. … It doesn’t come back overnight.”
With the Bears sitting at 3-10 and eliminated from playoff contention, more than ever it’s about evaluating the players on this roster. There’s going to be a lot of turnover on the roster during the offseason, and Leatherwood has a chance to make a name for himself in this final month.
“Focus on me and my team, you know what I mean?” Leatherwood said. “Just narrow the scope on the things that I need to do to be a better player each and every day and do everything I can to commit myself to helping the team win.”
Eberflus said the team will make a decision about who will start at right tackle coming out of the bye week, where coaches will do some more self-scouting. But rest assured, Leatherwood will see more playing time. If he’s not starting, he’ll continue to rotate.
“We’ll see where it goes from there and put our best guys out there,” Eberflus said.
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