The Bears will be without three of their preferred starting offensive linemen this week, but they will have one of their backups available. Alex Leatherwood is coming off the team’s reserve/non-football illness list, The Athletic’s Adam Jahns tweets. The team announced the activation.
Leatherwood has not played since being claimed by the Bears. A mononucleosis bout led Leatherwood to the Bears’ reserve/NFI list, which mandates at least a four-game absence. The Bears had until Nov. 2 to activate Leatherwood, so a shift back to the 53-man roster a bit early would seem to represent a good sign. This will be the Bears’ second injury/illness activation this season; they have six remaining.
Because the Bears designated Leatherwood to return on Oct. 12, he could resume practicing. Chicago claimed Leatherwood on Aug. 31, keeping his first-round contract in the equation after the Raiders bailed on it before his second season. Last year’s No. 17 overall pick, Leatherwood has a long way to go to restore his pre-draft stock — a value in which most disagreed with the Raiders — but he may have an opportunity to contribute with the Bears soon.
Already without longtime left guard Cody Whitehair, the Bears lost center Lucas Patrick and right tackle Larry Borom against the Patriots. Patrick is now on IR, and the Bears ruled out Borom due to the concussion he suffered Monday night. Despite not winning a starting job, Riley Reiff remains on Chicago’s 53-man roster. Reiff would make sense as a Borom replacement; the 33-year-old veteran has played one offensive snap all season. Matt Eberflus did not confirm Reiff would start. The Bears have Michael Schofield rostered as well, with Sam Mustipher set to step back into the starting center role.
Leatherwood, who stands to provide the Bears with some depth, has bounced between tackle and guard during his short career. The Raiders moved him from right tackle to right guard early in his rookie season, but Josh McDaniels‘ staff had the Alabama alum working back at right tackle this offseason. Las Vegas did not see enough from Leatherwood to reserve a roster spot for him, jettisoning the Jon Gruden-era pick.