Injuries aside, it’s time for the real Leonard Floyd to stand up
Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd did everything he could to stay engaged.
Oftentimes that meant staying hitched to side of his position coach, Clint Hurtt, particularly when plays were analyzed between possessions.
And sometimes that meant having a water bottle ready for his teammates when they were coming off the field.
“There’s multiple ways I can have an effect on the game without playing,” Floyd said.
Floyd clearly is reciting a coach’s message to him. It’s important for the Bears’ first-round pick to be involved if he’s not playing.
But it’s more important for Floyd to back on the field, develop through actual playing time and produce every week.
Floyd held water bottles during the Bears’ loss in Indianapolis because he was out with a calf injury. The injury hasn’t led to a complete shutdown, but it has been deemed serious enough to rest Floyd.
“I feel better,” Floyd said Thursday at Halas Hall after being limited in practice for a second consecutive day.
Floyd doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl player for his rookie season to be considered successful. But he’s a top-10 pick. He’s expected to contribute in some form every game.
So far, the Bears haven’t gotten much bang from the first-round buck. Receiver Kevin White’s situation — the 2015 first-round selection underwent surgery for a spiral fracture in his left fibula on Tuesday – only will increase the scrutiny of Floyd.
For now, Floyd’s long list of minor injuries is a good excuse. He’s been dealing with issues since training camp opened, and he can’t develop as a player when he’s in the trainer’s room.
Floyd’s calf injury, which occurred Oct. 2 against the Lions, has cost him nearly six full quarters.
“It ain’t been nothing but adversity,” Floyd said. “You just got to fight through it and take it one day at a time”
The game against the Colts, who have allowed a league-worst 20 sacks, would’ve provided Floyd with ample opportunities to work on the pass-rush skills, which he confidently says are improving.
Instead, it’s been way too long since Floyd has been able to flash the coveted skills that made the Bears leapfrog the Giants in the draft to select him. Floyd’s half-sack against the Texans in which he blew by veteran tackle Chris Clark was weeks ago.
“Probably one of the frustrating things, not just for us but for him too, is the continuity of it, consistently in clumps of time,” coach John Fox said of Floyd’s playing time. “There hasn’t been enough clumps yet. We’re working on that, and hopefully that shifts soon.”
Floyd is confident that it will. There are plenty of games left, and he’s set to play Sunday against the Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.
There has been a focus on the development of Floyd’s power moves, but his coaches still want him to do what he does best.
“They’re pushing me on getting on the lineman as fast as I can,” Floyd said. “I need to be attacking him while he’s bailing in pass situations.”
Floyd also enjoys being a versatile piece on defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s chessboard. Fangio considers Floyd his best outside linebacker in coverage. His mindset changes with his responsibilities, but he’s all for it.
“It’s not that hard to adjust to it,” Floyd said. “You just got to know your play calls and what to do. I was doing that all throughout college, so I’m pretty comfortable with all the scenarios.”
The Bears would love for him to prove that, starting Sunday.
“He can do all the things you ask of an outside linebacker,” Fox said. “Unfortunately for us, it just hasn’t been as consistent as we’d like to this point.”