Five things we learned during the Bears’ clean-out day

SHARE Five things we learned during the Bears’ clean-out day

The Bears placed Kyle Long on injured reserve this season. (AP)

Locker-room clean-out day came and went in a flurry, but not before several big-name Bears met the media after a rough, injury-plagued 3-13 season. Here are five things we learned Monday:

1. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd will benefit immediately and in the long term from the time off because of his concussion.

The Bears have every right to be excited about Floyd after his rookie season. He played like a top-10 pick should at times, making 6½ of his seven sacks in a five-game span.

Concerns about Floyd’s weight and strength proved to be overblown. As hoped, his speed made him dynamic, especially in stunts and designed pressures. He also made strides technique-wise.

But Floyd still needs to prove he can handle the every-game rigors. An offseason spent getting stronger will help.

The season also ends at a good time for Floyd. He won’t feel compelled to come back from his second concussion in a month. He can recuperate.

“I’m not worried about it,” Floyd said. “I know once I get my technique right, I’ll be all right.”

Floyd suffered both concussions when he lowered the crown of his helmet to tackle running backs. Both times he collided with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks.

Asked if he still was feeling concussion symptoms, Floyd said “not really,” but he added that he was awaiting more tests.

“I’m getting close to being back to being myself,” Floyd said. “This time I had headaches, like a migraine every couple minutes. Then it has started going away, and now I’m back to normal.”

2. An offseason spent training instead of rehabbing and receiving treatment will help outside linebacker Pernell McPhee regain the form he lost after surgery on his left knee last offseason.

As confident and bombastic as McPhee can be, the veteran knows that he wasn’t himself this season. His strength remained formidable, but his mobility wasn’t the same.

That’s why McPhee’s training this offseason is important.

“My knee is healthy,” said McPhee, who had four sacks in nine games. “The only thing I got to do is just continue to strengthen it, and that’s what I’m going to do this offseason. That’s my main focus right there.”

McPhee opened the season on the physically unable-to-perform list and made his debut in Week 7 against the Packers. But the Bears still proceeded cautiously after his return. He was limited in numerous practices.

“When I’m healthy, I’m going to be the best player that I can be,” McPhee said, “and whatever that is, you’re going to see it on film.”

The Bears’ still believe he can be valuable.

McPhee wanted to play through his shoulder injury against the Vikings on Sunday.

“It was all right,” said McPhee, who hurt his shoulder diving at Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins on his touchdown run in Week 16. “Coach just made a decision. I told him I could go. But he just made a decision — a smart decision — to sit me out.”

3. The tear in right guard Kyle Long’s shoulder isn’t nearly as serious as the ankle injury he had that required surgery and ended his season.

Long said he won’t be back on two feet until Jan. 25 after having surgery to repair significant damage in his right ankle, which he suffered against the Buccaneers.

Until then, Long will use a scooter to get around and wait for his shoulder surgery. He called his recovery from ankle surgery “a long-term process.” His shoulder surgery will be quick, he said.

“I know this shoulder will be a lot less invasive,” Long said.

Long’s torn labrum was an issue, but never a huge one, especially for a player with Long’s toughness and determination.

If it had been a major issue, Long would have played with a bulky brace that restricted his mobility. He didn’t in the eight games he played.

4. Receiver Alshon Jeffery continues to drop hints he wants to remain with the Bears without exactly saying it.

Jeffery held firm on his prediction that the Bears would win the Super Bowl next season.

“Damn right,” Jeffery said. “2017 is going to be a different Chicago Bears team. This year coming is going to be a different team. I really believe it in my heart. You have to believe this is going to be a special year, you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to have faith and put in the work.”

The big question, of course, is whether Jeffery will be part of that team.

“I just answered your question, didn’t I?” Jeffery said.

But he didn’t. Jeffery played out this season on his $14.6 million franchise tag after negotiations for a long-term deal stalled. For negotiations to be different this offseason, Jeffery’s camp will have to lower its demands from the upper-echelon deal that it wanted last year.

5. Receiver Kevin White is OK with fans who doubt he’ll ever be the player who was worth the seventh overall pick in 2015. It fuels him.

Despite being a high-end player who has barely played because of two major surgeries on his lower left leg in one year, White smiled often and appeared to be just one of the guys during locker-room clean-out day. At one point, White, who played at West Virginia, wore a Miami jacket and posed for a photo to pay off a bet.

White is naturally upbeat and optimistic. It’s an unwavering strength of his.

In that regard, White said he’s excited about the pressure he’ll be facing in his third season. He’s not discouraged that he seemingly has been written off; he’s encouraged by it.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” said White, who had 19 catches for 187 yards in four games. “Just like people doubted me to get into the NFL. I made it happen, and I’ll make it happen again.”

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