The Bears’ offensive tackle competition got a lot more interesting this week when Ryan Poles signed Riley Reiff. When the news first broke, it seemed like he would slide into the starting left tackle role. But on the first day of practice, Reiff split starting reps with Braxton Jones.
Reiff has only been a Chicago Bear for two days, but as he works his way into Matt Eberflus’ program he’s had a chance to check out the Bears’ collection of young tackles, including Jones, Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins, and he likes what he’s seen.
“They are athletic. Real athletic,” Reiff said. “They're going to become seasoned. Obviously, it takes time especially nowadays in the NFL with pass rushers. They are good, man. All are very smart, very athletic. They are going to be good players.”
Reiff made it clear he prefers to play left tackle, since that’s where he has the most experience, but he’s open to playing elsewhere on the line, even at guard where he played in college.
“Wherever I can help this team win I'm willing to do it.”
That includes in the classroom, where Borom, Jenkins and Jones can learn from Reiff. The veteran won’t shy away from mentoring the younger players, even if that means he loses his job to one of them later in the year.
“I'm here to help anybody,” Reiff said. “I'm an open book. We're just trying to win games. Whatever it takes, we've got a lot of young, talented guys in the room. Whatever I can do to help them I'm on board with it.”
Best case scenario for the Bears may be for Reiff to take over the starting left tackle job, and hold it for most, if not all, of the season. That would give the younger tackles more time to “season” themselves as Reiff said, so that when they do eventually play, they’ll have a better chance for success. It would also give Fields some reliable protection on the edge as he develops his own game. After all, no one can expect Fields to grow if he’s running for his life on every passing down.
No matter how things shake out, players like Jones, Borom and Jenkins should benefit from having Reiff in the mix.