On the field for the first time in an NFL game, Bears rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd needed a few extra seconds to find the right place.
He went to his right, then his left before lining up over the Broncos’ right guard and next to nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
It was a creative look — an early indicator that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will use him in various ways this season.
“That was part of the call,” Floyd said after the Broncos’ 22-0 win Thursday night at Soldier Field to open the preseason. “I just go out and execute the way the call presents itself.”
But it was all for naught. Floyd entered the game on a third-and-four for the Broncos, which became a third-and-nine after a false start.
On Floyd’s first NFL snap, the Broncos scored.
A blitz failed to reach quarterback Mark Sanchez, while a breakdown in coverage led to receiver Demaryius Thomas getting wide open behind cornerback Bryce Callahan for a 32-yard score.
As for Floyd, he was blocked by right tackle Donald Stephenson without any assistance. It was the start of an uneventful evening for the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft.
“I think I did pretty good,” Floyd said. “I came out and just played hard, so we’ll go and look at the film, see what I made mistakes on and go from there.”
The Bears’ struggles on offense — starting with the failed protection of quarterback Jay Cutler after the loss of second-year center Hroniss Grasu — deserve more scrutiny than Floyd’s learning curve.
But it’s still important that Floyd makes some strides in the preseason. Fangio’s insertion of Floyd in a key situation with the rest of the defensive starters — third-and-four for the Broncos from the Bears’ 27-yard line — was a clear sign that Floyd has a role in his defense.
Floyd’s best play came against the run. In the third quarter, he ran down the line unblocked to tackle running back Devontae Booker after a three-yard gain.
“I made a couple of plays backside,” said Floyd, who played into the third quarter. “That probably was what my highlight of the day.”
But the Bears want those highlights to be sacks. Floyd said he was happy with his pass rushes, specifically mentioning his hand placement, but acknowledged that improvement is needed.
“It’s just got to be faster or something,” Floyd said.
Floyd’s competition for most of the night was Broncos reserve offensive lineman Darrion Weems, who went undrafted out of Oregon in 2012.
Before joining the Broncos, Weems spent time with the Vikings, Patriots, Colts and Cowboys.
In other words, Floyd faced experienced competition, but not exactly at an exceptional level.
“We really didn’t know who I would be going against,” Floyd said. “We just studied their offense as a whole.”
Floyd tried different moves against Weems, which included a failed spin to the inside. Late in the second quarter, he successfully ripped inside but Broncos backup quarterback Trevor Siemian completed his pass. Floyd tried the same move on the next snap and Weems stood him up.
Floyd also received a taste of what teams will do to counter his speed. The Broncos’ quarterbacks made a number of quick reads and throws.
“I tried to get my rush going,” Floyd said. “We’re going to go look at the film and see how I can do the rushes better.”
Going back to work is all Floyd can do.
Did Floyd learn anything Thursday?
“I learned that it’s a long game,” Floyd said, “and you can’t get a sack every play.”
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