‘You don’t think the same’: Concussion floored Bears’ Leonard Floyd
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Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd’s rookie season ended Christmas Eve, when he suffered his second concussion in five weeks.
His offseason didn’t begin for months. He sat at home in a fog.
“You just don’t feel normal,” Floyd said after mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday. “You know, it’s this thinking part, like you don’t think the same.
“I wasn’t thinking like I normally would think. And then I’d be staring off in space sometimes instead of paying attention.”
When the season ended, the Bears told him not to work out until his concussion symptoms lifted. It wasn’t until February when he felt healthy enough to resume activities.
“It took me two months to really feel like I was back to myself,” he said in his first interview since Jan. 2. “I was just at the house, relaxing, getting my mind back together. After those two months, I felt back.”
He gradually improved in January and February and cleared the last hurdle when he was able to work out.
“Day by day, I was able to focus more, and my mind wasn’t all racing everywhere, and I was able to lock in on things,” he said.
It’s impossible to overstate the serious nature of his two concussions — for Floyd’s playing career and his quality of life.
He was carted off the field on a backboard after suffering a scary injury Nov. 20 against the Giants but was cleared by hospital doctors in time to join the Bears on their flight home from New Jersey. Then on Dec. 24 against the Redskins, he suffered his second concussion. He began getting headaches, which subsided within a few days.
In both cases, Floyd collided with teammate Akiem Hicks while trying to make a tackle. The Bears chalked both up to bad technique — he tackled with the crown of his head going forward. Floyd has worked with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason to improve his form.
“I definitely have to be aware because I don’t want to get another concussion and sit out games,” he said. “I have to make sure I play every game.”
Floyd declared himself in better shape — “It’s like night and day,” he said — than he was this time last year, when he was feeling his way through his first pro minicamp after being selected No. 9 overall.
Listed at 240 pounds, Floyd said he probably weighs a little under 247.
“I just wanted to be as heavy as I could get as a person,” he said, “to just eat my three meals a day, eat my snacks in between, and whatever I weigh, I weigh.”
In 12 games last season, Floyd had seven sacks and recovered an Aaron Rodgers fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. He and the Bears’ coaches felt he could have done better. Fangio even gave him an “incomplete” grade last month, while admitting he played well in stretches.
“Everything was new to me last year,” Floyd said. “I’m just way more comfortable being out there with the play calls and getting out my assignments to the other guys on the field.”
Floyd already has noticed how he’s playing faster.
“I’m way faster,” he said. “Sometimes getting off at the snap, I’m stuttering, false-stepping. I just need to clean up getting off on the rock when the ball’s snapped.”
Coach John Fox said he already has seen the game slow down for Floyd, even in the offseason.
“He’s a really good talent,” Fox said. “I’d rather understate and let him overproduce, but I think mentally and physically, he’s going to take a big step.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.