Riley Reiff Is Not What the Bears Are Looking for at Right Tackle. Alex Leatherwood and Larry Borum Might Be.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Do you think Alex Leatherwood has a place on this O-line in the future? I am hoping he can be the right tackle at some point this season if he performs well. — @iammars25

There’s no way to answer that question without seeing Leatherwood play. As I wrote Friday, it’s a really good idea to give Leatherwood a stretch of games as a starter before the season ends to determine if he should be in the mix to compete for a starting job in 2023. That could happen at right tackle, but veteran Riley Reiff has played well the last two weeks and I doubt the Bears are ready to make a switch right away. Time is remaining, but I’m definitely in the camp that believes Leatherwood needs to be evaluated before the end of the season.

So a couple of things here.

When Leatherwood was acquired, it was fairly evident to me that the Bears thought that he was a project. When you watched him on video, his technique was completely shot. The guess here is that the plan is for offensive line coach Chris Morgan to completely tear Leatherwood down to the studs and then rebuild both his technique and his confidence from the ground up. That’s going to take time. And the fact that Leatherwood started his Bears career by becoming injured set him back even farther.

We probably will see Leatherwood at some point toward the end of the season, particularly if it continues to look like the Bears will be eliminated from the playoffs sooner rather than later. But my guess is that the Bears acquired Leatherwood more for 2023 and that it’s not a big deal if he doesn’t make it onto the field in 2022.

Second, and this is the second or third time I’ve heard Biggs say it this week, veteran Riley Reiff is playing well but not that well. There’s a reason why Reiff has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career. He’s known as an excellent pass blocker, but his run blocking is amongst the poorest in the league.

Ultimately the Bears need an all-around guy who can do both at right tackle. Larry Borum is a young player who shows some signs that he could do that. And playing and developing the young players is what this season is about, not playing veterans that you already know aren’t good enough.

My guess – and it is only a guess – is that the Bears were a little bit hesitant to put Borum in right away coming off of his concussion with very little practice time. However, it would not surprise me in the least if he was starting at right tackle over Reiff this week.

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