An injury report that features two starting offensive lineman who are OUT for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys is suboptimal. But news on the injury front wasn’t all bad this afternoon.
Alex Leatherwood, who has been out since mid-September because of a trip to the non-football illness list, is on the verge of coming back:
What great timing for the Bears to activate Leatherwood. Being down three starters (let’s not forget that Cody Whitehair is out and isn’t eligible to return from IR for at least another week) is a bummer. And even though we haven’t seen Leatherwood in a Bears uniform, simply having another healthy body is welcome news. Leatherwood began taking his first steps toward returning to the Bears’ active roster earlier in October when the Bears opened up his 21-day practice window. That got the ball rolling on Leatherwood building toward getting back onto the field. And soon enough, Leatherwood could be making his Bears debut.
Leatherwood joined the team after being claimed off waivers by the Bears after the final preseason roster cutdown. A first-round pick by the Raiders in 2021, Leatherwood’s rookie season was a struggle — and at multiple positions, too. Leatherwood’s pro career began with him at the right tackle position. However, was graded as one of the poorest players at the position by PFF and other offensive line analysts. The Raiders moved Leatherwood to guard, which was a little bit better (but still bad). In the end, a new regime that didn’t draft or position Leatherwood in Vegas cut ties with him late in the summer. And that is where the Bears saw an opportunity to buy low on a first-round caliber talent to see where he could fit after a change of scenery. Fast forward two months and we’re considering Leatherwood as a possibility to start this week.
Part of me thinks it is a long shot to see Leatherwood starting. He hasn’t suited up at all for the Bears this year. And he hasn’t taken a snap since the preseason. Throwing him into the starting lineup feels like a big ask. Moreover, it feels like a gargantuan task when you consider that Micah Parsons is threatening to line up on the other side of the line of scrimmage. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see Leatherwood in action. The Bears could use Leatherwood in a rotation, perhaps with Riley Reiff (a veteran with tons of starting experience). Or perhaps the team could deploy Leatherwood as an eligible lineman on either side of the line to help as a blocker. I wouldn’t mind seeing Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy get creative in this situation. Just don’t throw him to the wolves in his first game back.