Joniak's Journal: Learning Continues For Bears' Leonard Floyd

"He’s one of the few guys that can just go around you," Brandon Staley says.

Jeff Joniak
August 07, 2018 - 5:27 pm
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BOURBONNAIS (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears continued their training camp work with another practice Tuesday. They'll soon head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in their second preseason game Thursday evening.

First impression

There are some really passionate teachers on the Bears' coaching staff, and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers is quite the story. A former college quarterback, Rodgers worked in Denver from 2011-'14 and then came to Chicago to continue working under John Fox in 2015. Retained by first-year coach Matt Nagy and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Rodgers loves teaching and molding young players.

"Every one of my guys need to work on everything," Rodgers said. "They don’t need to relax at all, because as soon as you relax, someone else is working a little bit harder than you. They need to work on run game, footwork, hand placement in the run game, knock-back ability, getting your feet right, getting your base right, working your hands, hips and feet around the edges and the finish."

Akiem Hicks is the dominant player up front, leading the way for younger up-and-coming players such as nose tackle Eddie Goldman, defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and defensive end Jonathan Bullard who are being counted on to take another big step in their impact and development.

Rodgers addressed Bullard specifically.

"He’s been able to get stronger in the offseason," Rodgers said. "He still has those twitchy traits, which I like. He’s more comfortable playing in the system. He’s one of the smartest guys in the room. We give him the ability that if he sees something, to just be able to make an adjustment on his part to make a play."

Bullard’s explosive first movement explosiveness is what attracted the Bears originally, and he flashed that instinctive quickness against the Ravens last week. Consistency is what the Bears are looking for from Bullard. 

Second thought

Rodgers sounded excited about Delaware rookie defensive end Bilal Nichols. Drafted in the fifth round, Nichols dominated his competition in college, but he doesn’t look at all out of place against veteran offensive linemen here in an NFL camp. He played well against the Ravens last week, building a path to more rotational playing time. He's highly thought of by the organization. 

"I like his physical traits, his ability to knock people back and stay square," Rodgers said. "He’s an athletic big man with long arms. That’s what we saw on tape. That’s why we drafted him where we drafted him. He’s coming along. He’s just like any other rookie. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know yet."

The tempo will change against the Bengals on Thursday, and Nichols will feel the difference that comes with each week going by and the opener approach.

Third degree

Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd missed a big chunk of last season due to injury, so this is a move year for him in his third campaign under Fangio. He looks good and is adding to his tool box. 

"His consistency in his performance," outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley said. "Consistency as a rusher, consistency in the run game, consistency in coverage. 

"One of the things we love about him is that he can do all three really well. For him to perform to his capacity at a consistent basis, that’s what we need from him is to be a consistent player."

Floyd has power and is learning when to use his length, understand the timing of his rush and read a pass set. It’s not always just about screaming off the edge with his bend, edge speed,and quickness. 

I always felt that if Floyd sticks his long arms into the chest of a tackle before the tackles gets his hands on him, his win percentage per snap escalates. It’s what he’s being taught by Staley.

"He’s one of the few guys that can just go around you," Staley said. "When those tackles are bailing out and their hands are down and their chest is exposed. the long arm is the quickest way to cut the angle to the quarterback. We’ve been working on it hard."

Floyd had just such a pass rush against the tight ends in practice Monday.

Fourth-and-short

A sight seen and heard repeatedly at Bears training camp about Nagy comes from fans who have had a chance to get his autograph or a picture with him after practice -- "What a personable and likable man he is." 

It’s true. He’s made time for everyone and is making everyone feel important.  

Everyone.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.