Floyd Hopes To Have Bigger Hand In Bears Defense

October 19, 2018 - 10:23 am
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(670 The Score) While Bears star outside linebacker Khalil Mack played through ankle pain in a loss at Miami last Sunday and Chicago failed to produce a sack or generate much pressure, a question loomed.

Where was the boost from the other edge and Leonard Floyd?

The third-year outside linebacker Floyd played 61 snaps last Sunday -- 78 percent of the Bears' defensive plays -- but primarily was notice because of a body slam of Dolphins receiver Danny Amendola that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. While the Bears have 18 sacks produced from 10 different players, Floyd has been shut out in the most revealing stat his position has.

As Mack was hampered by the injured right ankle, Floyd was just regaining a full grasp while working for the first time without his right hand in a protective cast.

"The biggest limitation was probably getting engaged and trying to get off a block," Floyd said of his start to the season. "I only had one hand, so it was pretty hard. But now that my hand is starting to heal back all the way, I'm starting to be able to use my hands a lot more.

"I'm going to just go out and play football the best way I can."

Floyd fractured his right hand during a preseason game in August. It has now healed, and he can play freely with both hands. The challenge that Floyd himself minimized at the beginning of the season proved to be greater than he anticipated, as evidenced by his zero sacks 

Floyd spent part of this offseason working with outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley on using his hands to be a more effective rusher. He recorded 11.5 sacks in his first 22 career games mostly by rushing as a speed threat. The Bears had hoped that Floyd could have a breakout season with better hand technique.

This past Sunday, Floyd had two hands free and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio noticed the difference, saying it was his most active game.

"There’s still a little more that can be improved there as far as his confidence and usage of it," Fangio said. "But I thought it was good. Earlier (in the season), he was really affected by it."

Mack's status against the Patriots on Sunday remains uncertain. He didn't participate in practice this week and would likely still be hampered by the ankle injury if able to play.

The Bears are aware of Mack's importance to them but embrace the idea of picking up the slack -- with or without him. That starts with Floyd.

"It's next man up," Floyd said. "The guys who are going to have to play until he returns are going to have to play at a high level until he comes back."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​