Experience over exposure. That is one way to look at the Chicago Bears’ handling of their offensively of late, specifically when it comes to right tackle. A position that was up for grabs this summer ultimately went to second-year man Larry Borom. But, after a concussion knocked him out of action for a couple of weeks, it was Riley Reiff in his stead.
Since Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys, Reiff has manned the right side of the Bears’ line as they have rushed for at least 250 yards twice.
And, judging from the sounds of head coach Matt Eberflus, things will stay status quo.
“Riley’s done well,” Eberflus told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “Riley’s done well in there since he’s had that spot. He’s playing with a good demeanor. He’s functioned well, he’s graded out well. So, we’re just going that way at this point.”
Bears OL Riley Reiff Opens Up About Role Change
Bears OL Solidified
“It’s fun being out there playing, Reiff said after the game. “It’s fun being around these guys. I know how hard they work. Just a great group of dudes that go out there and fight, scratch, claw and it’s fun to be out there with them.”
Reiff has done more than just step in, he’s excelled as the Bears’ offensive line posted three of their top five pass-blocking grades since he’s stepped in, per Pro Football Focus.
In that time, quarterback Justin Fields has completed 64.7% of his passes for 441 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception which he called a “dumb” throw trying to force it to tight end, Cole Kmet.
Fields has also rushed for 385 yards and an additional four scores in that span.
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“No matter what we call, you got to do it,” asserted Reiff when asked if the offensive line appreciated the shift in approach. “I love our coaches…they’ve been doing an excellent job helping us out and putting us in the right situations. And, as a guy that’s been around a bunch of offenses, I really do appreciate it”.
After having to wait patiently for seven weeks, Reiff is still sounding as he did when he arrived.
“Encourage them, teach them up,” said Reiff of his time on the sidelines. “We’ve got some young guys that are doing some really good things…I’m just here to help the team win.”
Ever the professional, he was even highly critical of himself for allowing a sack to Lions rookie EDGE rusher Aidan Hutchinson on the Bears’ third-to-last offensive play – his first sack allowed this season.
Boron Down, Not Out
Reiff’s ascension is not necessarily an indictment against Borom, based on the word of Eberflus who was explaining what led to Reiff remaining in place even as Borom has returned from his concussion.
The coach was as matter-of-fact as usual.
“Larry’s done a great job,” Eberflus said. “He’s been awesome, he’s been a pro and he’s working his tail off in there…it’s still a competition. We’ll see where it goes.”
Eberflus also noted that, in the NFL, guys can be called upon at any given moment just as Reiff and fellow veteran Michael Schofield – who started last week in place of starting right guard Teven Jenkins and has filled in at left guard for Cody Whitehair – have both done.
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