Vic Fangio would love to say Leonard Floyd had a great start to his pro career.
But he didn’t. And he hasn’t.
“Overall,” he said, “his camp was kind of choppy.”
Whether the Bears’ defensive coordinator was being blunt Wednesday or intentionally trying to tamp down expectations for the No. 9 overall draft pick, he threw a verbal glass of cold water on Floyd four days before his first NFL game.
“Well, he’s athletic,” he said. “He can run. I think he’s got good instincts. He just has to learn what to do, and how to do it more consistently.”
Injuries prevented Floyd from making such progress during the offseason, Fangio said, before listing them one-by-one. The outside linebacker pick trudged through a series of maladies, starting with a Bourbonnais illness, extending to a shoulder problem and a hamstring issue that kept him from participating in the all-important third preseason game.
“I’m disappointed that happened, but I’m not mad at him,” Fangio said. “He didn’t do it on purpose. But it has retarded his development a little bit.”
Floyd admitted as much.
“I believe a little adversity I had those few times definitely held me back a little bit,” he said.
Floyd, who said he’s “as ready as I can be,” saying he’s about two pounds shy of a playing weight he declined to specify. He claimed to have little idea about his bench role against the Texans; However, expect the Bears to use him in pass-rush situations to maximize his explosive rush skills and long levers.
Fangio admitted a situational role might slow down his development. However, he sounded doubtful Floyd could handle much more in Week 1.
“The only reason you take him in and out, is one, like I said, because of those things I mentioned in training camp, I don’t think he’s in the greatest condition right now,” he said. “And I think for a young guy like himself, playing 60 to 70 plays in an NFL game, he’s going to find it vastly different than the 80 plays he might have played in college.
“OK? He’s up against men now.”
A limited role could still yield big numbers: Fangio said he played outside linebacker Aldon Smith about half the time when he was a 49ers rookie. He finished the 2011 season with 14 sacks, a team rookie record.
Fangio said he sat Floyd for the third exhibition game because he had an inconsistent week of practice after coming back from the hamstring problem. Floyd finished the preseason having played 106 snaps, starting the finale against the Browns after the Bears benched those who were locks to make the team.
“I think that was the best path to use,” Fangio said. “And feel like in spite of everything he’s about as ready as he can be, not if he had been all available in camp. But he’s ready to go.”
There was probably a sense of strategy in Fangio’s criticism. Last year, he publicly critiqued rookie Eddie Goldman through the first month of the season — and the nose tackle finished the year as one of his best players.
The Bears would love Floyd to do the same, even if Fangio is being realistic about the chances.
“It’s fixin’ to count now,” Floyd said. “So my level of play is definitely gonna be better.”
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