The Bears’ offseason program ended with one particularly tangible evidence of good news: Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd participated fully in the last two days of the veteran minicamp and expects to be “full-go with everything” when training camp opens July 20 in Bourbonnais.
“I feel great,” Floyd said. “I’ve been up here the whole offseason, working hard, trying to get back in shape, trying to get my leg right so I can be ready for the season. I’m ready to get to training camp, put the pads on and see how I do.”
Until this week, Floyd had been mostly on the sidelines in offseason workouts while recovering from surgery to repair sprained medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee. He was injured Nov. 19 against the Lions at Soldier Field and missed the last six games of the regular season.
The Bears have room for growth on a defense that ranked 10th in yards, 11th in yards per play and ninth in points allowed, but Floyd, 25, is one of the biggest X-factors.
He had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016 and 4½ sacks last season — moderate but not breakout production. But the injuries were problematic both seasons. Floyd also missed four games because of head and neck injuries in 2016.
So he not only has to take a big step on the field but also stay on the field. After the Bears lost outside linebackers Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston in the offseason, it’s more than likely Floyd will have to be a double-digit sack performer in 2018 — unless Aaron Lynch or rookie Kylie Fitts or some other unheralded linebacker becomes a revelation.
But after two up-and-down seasons, with his NFL career at an early crossroads, Floyd is too focused on the moment to think about expectations or reflect on where he has been and where he is headed.
“I’m just trying to get better every day,” Floyd said when asked about his mental outlook heading into the 2018 season. “I’m not thinking that far into the future.”
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Coach Matt Nagy said it’s too early to tell just how effective Floyd will be coming off the layoff. The Bears won’t be in pads until the third practice in Bourbonnais.
“I think the biggest thing when you run into a knee issue like that is just having the trust in the knee,” Nagy said, “and how it’s going to be with some of the different stunts and rushes that you have — the drops.
“His strength is his size and speed. We don’t have the pads on, so he can’t really show [what he’s got]. In seven-on-seven, he’ll have to pull up because he can’t do certain moves. So come back and ask me that question [at training camp].”