Alex Leatherwood’s 2022 arc has been fun to follow.
Leatherwood began the year as a Raiders second-year lineman with much to prove after floundering as a rookie first-round pick. Since then, he’s gone from (1) Raiders outcast on the waiver wire, to (2) Bears project on the non-football injury list, to (3) someone who could be making his way into a late-season time share.
You might’ve missed it, but Leatherwood actually made his Bears debut on Sunday. It was just a 10-snap sample that happened in the middle of the game. But that’s a start. Windy City Gridiron’s Robert Schmitz has additional perspective with some game-tape attached to a tweet:
Nothing fancy. Just quality blocking in a game in which he got light work in his debut.
So … where’s Leatherwood been? Good question. Here’s Leatherwood’s answer explaining what took him so long to get to this point, including details on his trip to the NFI list:
Leatherwood, though, needed time to regain his strength and more after losing 25 pounds when he had mononucleosis, which included a stint on injured reserve.
“It kind of affects your whole health, that month being off,” Leatherwood said, via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns. “Just trying to get back into playing shape, I feel like that was the hardest part. … It doesn’t come back overnight.”
The Bears provided Leatherwood with a fresh start career-wise, but his illness temporarily changed that.
“I didn’t get too down about it at all. Like, s— happens,” Leatherwood said. “I just did my best to get healthy and come back.”
Sometimes it is easy to lose the forest through the trees. And this might be one of those situations. We’ve been pining for Leatherwood for a while. But between joining the Bears after the preseason as a waiver claim and a trip to the NFI list that kept him away from football activities, Leatherwood had a bunch of lost ground to gain. And it appears as if he has finally done it. Here’s to this being the first step toward more game snaps.
In the end, I’ll co-sign Schmitz in wanting more snaps for Leatherwood as the year comes to an end. Leatherwood has a first-round pedigree and put together some quality college tape that led him to be a highly regarded offensive line prospects from his draft class. Schmitz adds another thought I co-sign: Making grand evaluations after a 10-snap sample would be foolish. Even still … it’s encouraging that he was in the mix at all. And I hope we see more later.