EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Bears outside linebacker Pernell McPhee did his best to contain his emotions, but it was there as tears welled in his eyes.
“One of my brothers went down,” McPhee said. “You know what that mean?”
That brother was rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He was taken to a New Jersey hospital by ambulance after suffering a neck injury in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 22-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
The best news was that Floyd’s hospital visit wasn’t a long one. He was released following an evaluation of his neck and returned to Chicago on the team flight.
Coach John Fox said after the game that Floyd also would be checked for a concussion, but that it was “encouraging” that he was able to move his arms and legs before he departed MetLife Stadium.
Still, it was a scary scene in the fourth quarter when Floyd, the ninth overall selection in this year’s draft, went down after attempting to tackle running back Rashad Jennings.
With his head down, Floyd went helmet-first into the side of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, the Bears’ largest player at 6-5 and 336 pounds.
Floyd’s body buckled, and he immediately dropped to his knees. He was placed on a backboard and immobilized before being placed on a cart and driven off the field.
“Injuries are a part of the game; we all know that,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “But when you see those different injuries that are scary, it puts things in perspective. You see how important each guy is to each other in the locker room.”
Floyd was able to fist-bump teammates on his way off the field. Giants players also walked over and offered their support. Overall, seeing Floyd move helped ease their emotions.
“He even shook my hand and everything,” outside linebacker Willie Young said. “That’s what eased my mind.”
Floyd was in the middle of his best run with the Bears. Entering Sunday, he had 4 ½ sacks in his last three games. He was noticeable against the Giants, but as a team, the Bears didn’t sack Eli Manning. In the second quarter, Floyd tackled Jennings for a two-yard loss.
“You feel for your guys, especially when they’re younger guys that are going to have long productive careers,” Hicks said. “You’ll do anything to make sure that they’re all right.”
The Bears defense played well after Floyd left the field. But the emotions of seeing him immobilized on the cart still were felt after the game in the locker room.
“It hit us mentally and physically because that’s one of our young bucks, that’s one of our playmakers, that’s one of the guys we depend on,” McPhee said. “All prayers go out to him.”