Chicago Bears coach Matt Everfuls said he was “certainly” surprised to see offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood available to join the NFL’s Waiverwire on Tuesday.
Leatherwood won the University of Alabama’s Outland Trophy as America’s best college lineman in 2020, entered the NFL as the 17th pick in the 2021 draft, and appeared in every game as a rookie for the Las Vegas Raiders. Did.
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But when Las Vegas cut its preseason roster to its regular-season limit of 53 players on Tuesday afternoon, the Raiders ditched Leatherwood despite paying him about $8.47 million for 17 games. Did.
Bears general manager Ryan Pauls said he went back to his scouting report from the draft in deciding to include what turned out to be Leatherwood’s winning claim.
“I think the big thing that’s coming back is a talented player, physically gifted and certainly a prototype for his size and movement.” On the point, I think we all believe in player development here, and we’re putting the pieces in place to help players be their best selves, so we approach that in different ways. We will give him the opportunity to grow.
“Hey, forget about draft picks. It’s over. Let’s start on the ground floor. Take your time and build you up. Whatever it is, we’ll put him in the best position to succeed.”[Offensive line coach]Chris Morgan and his staff and everyone around the weight room, we’re going to do our best.”
Eberflus said the Bears have inside information on Leatherwood. Bears assistant Austin King, who is the offensive line coach, is Las Vegas tight end his coach, and Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith, who was the Las Vegas assistant last year, was the defensive line coach. Rod Marinelli, who served as the Raiders’ defensive line coach last year, is a mentor for the Everflus.
“We studied him on tape,” Everflus said Thursday. “We saw him. When he used it, he got nothing but good reports.
“We are excited to have him. Let’s see where he goes from here. Again, I’m not going to disclose it now, I’m still working with my coach on that, but it’s a clean slate and a fresh start for him.”
According to Eberflus, Chicago staff were impressed with certain aspects of Leatherwood’s skill set.
“One of the things that stands out about him is the run block,” Everflus said. “His run block is really good. We’re going to develop the game.He’s a young player and we got some really good coaches to help him.Chris Morgan’s one of the best line coaches in the NFL.We , I’m thrilled to have those guys paired together.”
Leatherwood joined Las Vegas when Mike Mayock was general manager and Jon Gruden was head coach. During the offseason, the Raiders imported leadership from New England, with new general manager Dave Ziegler as director of player personnel and new head coach Josh McDaniels as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.
When asked about Leatherwood’s release on Thursday, McDaniels said, “We’ve been coming here in every position group and talking about competition trying to give every player a chance to get a job. “Some things are bigger than others. We’re not perfect with that and hopefully we try to do what’s best for the team and make decisions that we think will help us move forward. He did everything he could to get his role here and like I said I wish him the best as he moves forward I hope you will do your best.”
Leatherwood started the first four games of his NFL career at right tackle and the next 14 games (including playoff contests) at right guard.
Among the players retained in Las Vegas’ offensive line this season are offensive tackle Thayer Mumford Jr., a seventh-round draft pick from Ohio State in 2022, and two appearances in three NFL appearances. There was another former seventh-round pick, Jackson Burton, who did. season.
“We said it,” McDaniels said when asked about the four undrafted rookies who turned 53. You’re here, it’s about what you do when you get here.
Leatherwood said he’s looking forward to seeing what Chicago can do, rather than trying to figure out what happened in Las Vegas.
When asked about what happened with the Raiders, Leatherwood said, “That’s not really my concern. I’m more concerned with the future and what’s happening here and now.”
Leatherwood arrived in Chicago around midnight Wednesday. He underwent a medical check-up and started work with the Bears on Thursday.
“I’m excited about the new opportunity,” Leatherwood said. “You know what I mean? And I’m going to make the most of it. …
“I see it as a positive. I am optimistic and grateful.”
The Bears are set to start the season with Braxton Jones at left tackle and Larry Borom at right tackle. Jones joined Chicago from southern Utah in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on April 30.
Chicago reinstated starter Cody Whitehair at left guard, 2021 second-round pick Teben Jenkins at right guard, and Sam after free agent signer Lucas Patrick was injured. -Mustifer returned to the center. Jenkins started his 2nd game in tackles as a rookie.
Regarding his position, Leatherwood said he was “open to anything”.
“I think he has the ability to play multiple positions, which is a big advantage,” Pauls said.
Chicago kicks off the 2022 season with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 11 at noon CDT.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter. @AMarkG1.