Bears Bring Back Familiar Face After Losing Young OL

Matt Eberlfus

Getty Head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed the Bears placed OL Alex Leatherwood on the NFI list.

The Chicago Bears are set to be without offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood for at least four weeks, head coach Matt Eberflus announced on September 14.

Leatherwood, who the Bears claimed off waivers on August 31, was placed on the NFI (Non-football injury and non-football illness) list, which means he will miss at least four weeks. The young O-Lineman, who was a first-round pick for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021 before being one of the team’s surprising cuts this year, was inactive for Chicago’s Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

The plan for Leatherwood has always been to bring him along slowly, so he can get acclimated to the team’s offense, so this is a minor speed bump for the 23-year-old lineman.

“We feel great about where he is and when he’s coming back,” Eberflus said, also noting Leatherwood was not with the team or present at Halas Hall. In order to fill the roster spot vacated by Leatherwood, the Bears have re-signed offensive lineman Michael Schofield, Eberflus confirmed.

Ian Rapoport: Leatherwood Is Out With Mono, Should Be Back in a Month

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Leatherwood is out with mononucleosis.

“My understanding is Alex Leatherwood has mono,” Rapoport said on NFL Now. “That is why they expect him to be back by the four-week mark. I believe when (former New York Jets quarterback) Sam Darnold was out with mono a couple years back, he was out for three games … The Bears believe Alex Leatherwood will be back in about a month.”

Leatherwood struggled as a rookie last year on a Raiders team that went through a coaching change during the regular season. He started all 17 games, and accumulated 14 penalties, while allowing 65 total pressures, 8.0 sacks, 17 QB hits and 40 hurries, per Pro Football Focus.

Despite his mistake-laden rookie campaign, the Bears have said they plan to give Leatherwood a fair shot at becoming a contributor, but it may take some time.

“I think we all believe in player development here, and we’ve put pieces in place to allow players to be their best selves,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said on September 1. “So, we’re going to approach that in many different ways, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to develop and grow.”

Schofield Is Back for the 2nd Time

The Bears first signed Schofield back in July 2022, just before training camp began. The veteran OL is entering his eighth season in the league, and has played in 102 career games. He has played for the Denver Broncos (2015-2016), the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2017-2019, 2021) and the Carolina Panthers (2020). Most recently, he appeared in 15 games for the Chargers 12 starts at right tackle in 2021, and he played 71 snaps at right guard for Chicago over the preseason before being part of the team’s final roster cuts.

Not only is Schofield experienced, he is familiar with Luke Getsy’s offense.

“When I played for Denver, we played in this exact offense,” Schofield said after the Bears signed him in July. “When I was in Denver, I’ll never forget, even going into probably Week 2 or Week 3, we weren’t running the ball as well. It was our first time running the wide zone offense and then come about Week 4, 5, or 6 it just clicked.”

The 31-year-old Schofield is an Orland Park, Illinois native, so he has been a fan of the team for as long as he can remember.

“I always wanted to land here,” he said after signing with Chicago. “Growing up here, I was a pretty big Bear fan. It’s a dream come true for sure to be able to play here.”

Now, he’ll get another chance in the Windy City.

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