Former Chicago Bears offensive lineman Rashaad Coward has landed in Arizona.
Coward signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in May of 2017, and he stayed in the Windy City through the 2020 season. The 28-year-old O-lineman appeared in 30 games for the Bears over that span (15 starts) and has bounced around since his release, spending time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars before landing in Arizona with the Cardinals.
Coward was signed to the Cardinals’ practice squad in the fall of 2022, but was released before getting signed to the team’s active roster on November 2. Week 10, in Arizona’s 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams, Coward started his first NFL game since he was with the Bears in 2020, and he performed well.
In 31 pass block snaps played at left guard, Coward didn’t allow a single sack, hurry or QB hit, earning a solid 86.1 overall pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
Coward’s Time With the Bears Was a Learning Experience
A former defensive tackle at Old Dominion University, the Bears converted Coward to offensive line shortly after his 2017 season concluded. He spent his entire first and second years on Chicago’s practice squad, working his way up to become a regular contributor on the offensive line during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
An injury to former Bears starting guard Kyle Long in 2019 thrust Coward into the starting lineup, and he performed well at times, but he looked overwhelmed during the bulk of his tenure in Chicago. In 653 pass block snaps with the Bears, Coward allowed 4.0 sacks, eight QB hits, 32 hurries and 44 pressures. He struggled both in the run game and in pass protection, but his attitude and drive were both there.
“I just want to play with a dog mentality,” Coward said back in October of 2019, via Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s the NFL. Guys come out here and try to kill you every week. So you can’t go out there playing soft — you’re going to get pushed around. And I don’t like that.”
He looked good in his first game of the 2022 season, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Bears’ O-Line Has Gotten Younger & Stronger in 2022
While Chicago’s offensive line has had his issues in pass protection this season, surrendering a league-high 36 sacks in 10 games, the unit has excelled when it comes to the run. Led by second-year standout Teven Jenkins, the Bears are leading the league in rushing (201.7 yards per game) behind an offensive line that has gotten younger, faster and stronger since Coward was with the team.
First-year general manager Ryan Poles, a former offensive lineman himself, has put an emphasis on the unit slimming down and getting in better shape, and you can see the results in the running game.
Granted, Chicago still has its issues on the O-line, but with Jenkins and rookie Braxton Jones playing well at right guard and left tackle, respectively, the Bears have two key building blocks moving forward, and Poles is only going to fortify the unit moving forward.