Leonard Floyd

NFC North Notes: Bears, Floyd, Lions, Vikings

Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd had surgery to repair a break in his right hand, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. However, coach Matt Nagy is hopeful that he’ll be able to play Week 1.

Floyd missed six games last year after tearing the MCL and PCL in his right knee, and the Bears do not want to lose him for any amount of time this year. Before that injury, he was on track to match and possibly top the seven sacks that he collected during his rookie season.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

Bears Rumors: Long, Lynch, Floyd, Burton

While franchise tag situations understandably dominated the day, here’s a look at one of the teams that didn’t take part in a summer standoff. Latest out of the Windy City:

  • Kyle Long‘s dealt with a string of injury problems in recent years. He underwent three more surgeries this offseason, but the Bears expect their top offensive lineman to be cleared in time for training camp, J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Long missed all of camp last season and the first two Bears games before suffering a season-ending injury that shelved him for most of Chicago’s December schedule. Shoulder, elbow and neck procedures followed, but they don’t look to be the kind of impediments Long dealt with in 2017 as he attempted to recover in time for the regular season. Long hasn’t played more than 10 games in a season since 2015. Veterans report to Bears camp July 19.
  • The Bears hope Aaron Lynch‘s history with Vic Fangio can translate to the kind of consistency that would make the former 49ers edge defender a reliable part of Chicago’s outside linebacker corps, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune notes. Hamstring and ankle injuries limited Lynch with his new team this offseason, and Kane considers him on the bubble to make the Bears. Lynch is attached to a one-year, $4MM contract. He played in just 14 games the past two seasons, restricted by injuries and a suspension, and recorded just 2.5 sacks in that span. He registered 12.5 during his first two seasons in the league, the first of which as a part of Fangio’s final 49ers defense.
  • After undergoing surgery to repair damaged the MCL and PCL in his right knee, Leonard Floyd also expects to be full-go by Bears camp, per Kane. With Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston off the roster, the Bears will need more from Floyd. Sam Acho, Jonathan Anderson and Kasim Edebali represent the non-Lynch veterans who could start opposite Floyd.
  • Trey Burton, though, may have a more important role on the 2018 Bears, with Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times ranking the former Eagles backup atop the list for players most vital to the team’s prospects this season. Despite Chicago investing more in Allen Robinson, and Mitch Trubisky obviously playing a more critical position, Jahns lists Burton in this slot because of his importance to Matt Nagy‘s offense. The Chiefs have run their attack through Travis Kelce for years, and Burton will be playing that role in Chicago. The Bears added Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller to their passing game, but Jahns writes Burton will do the most to elevate Trubisky’s comfort level. Burton has career-high marks of 37 receptions and 327 air yards — both in 2016.
  • Roquan Smith will be staying away from the Bears, whose rookies reported Monday, while his agent finalizes his rookie contract.

Bears Place Leonard Floyd On IR

In not even a week since we learned that Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd seriously injured his right knee, the talented pass rusher has been placed on injured reserve, the team announced on Thursday.

Leonard Floyd (Vertical)

Floyd suffered his knee injury during the team’s game last Sunday against the Lions. The 25-year-old had reportedly sprained two ligaments during the contest, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. So while it wasn’t immediately known if the injury was season-ending, head coach John Fox pretty much implied that Floyd’s outlook for 2017 didn’t appear all too hopeful.

“It’s going to be some time until he can come back, if at all the rest of this season,” Fox told the media this week. “We’ll kind of measure that as we go. But it was good to hear it wasn’t the ACL. It was MCL, PCL. It will require some work to get him fixed, but obviously better news that the total reconstruction.” (Quote courtesy of Campbell).

The second-year pass rush specialist was on track to match and possibly pass is seven sacks that he collected during his rookie season. Floyd tallied 4.5 sacks in ten games this season and ranked as the 67th best pass rusher in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Chicago has suffered a number of notable injuries on the offensive side of the ball, but Floyd represents a significant blow to the team’s defense, who had already lost pass rusher Willie Young to the IR in Week 6. The Bears will have to rely on backups Sam Acho and Jonathan Anderson to fill the outside linebacker void for the remainder of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bears, Floyd, Redskins, Pryor

Bears coach John Fox says linebacker Leonard Floyd is going to miss some time, but he would not commit to putting Floyd on injured reserve when speaking to reporters on Monday (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). That’s because the team believes that he does not have a torn ACL, so a return later in the year is still possible. All in all, it’s good news for Floyd after he was carted off the field in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is getting arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, a source tells Mike Jones of the Washington Post (on Twitter). Doctors should have a better idea of his recovery timetable after he goes under the knife. Pryor, a big free agent signing, has yet to really shine in Washington. To date, he has 20 catches for 240 yards with one touchdown in nine games.
  • Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s shoulder was re-evaluated today and he is not ready to return, head coach Dirk Koetter tells reporters (Twitter link via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com). Winston will be out this week against the Falcons, but doctors will check him out next week.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says Blaine Gabbert will start again this week (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). The plan, he says, is to stick with him until Drew Stanton is totally healthy. Gabbert completed 22-of-34 of his passes for 257 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both occurring late in the game. He did a solid job overall, but the Cardinals wound up falling short and falling to 4-6 on the year.
  • Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The injury does not appear to be a season-ender, but he may miss multiple games.

NFC Notes: Keenum, Floyd, Fitzgerald, Vaccaro

After stopping a surging Rams team in their tracks today, the Vikings stand at 8-2 and clearly are one of the best teams in the NFL, thanks in large part to the play of third-string quarterback Case Keenum. The 29 year-old backup has performed past all reasonable expectations when he was needed to hold down the fort for the injured Sam Bradford just until former first round pick Teddy Bridgewater returned from injury. However, Keenum has impressed throwing for 280 yards or more in the last three games, including seven touchdowns and just three picks in that span. His recent play has called for Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune to say that the debate for who should be Minnesota’s signal caller for the remainder of the season should be put to rest.

Scoggins opines that Bridgewater’s return has been emotional and uplifting, but Keenum puts the team in the best position to win now and in the playoffs. In his mind, Keenum is playing with too much confidence to make a change at this point, and in his opinion reporters should stop asking the question of who’s going to start after every game the team plays.

  • Talented Bears pass rusher Leonard Floyd was carted off the field in today’s loss to the Lions, and it seems like the linebacker has suffered a “really serious” knee injury, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. Dickerson notes that Floyd collided with cornerback Kyle Fuller‘s knee on a play in the fourth quarter and stayed on the ground for a long time before getting taken off the field. “Leonard Floyd left with what looks like a really serious knee injury,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I hate to speculate, but usually when you get taken out on a cart, it’s not great. We’ll evaluate it. I’ll talk to our doctors more today and tonight, and we will continue to evaluate tomorrow.” Floyd has not graded out all too well by Pro Football Focus this season, accumulating a mediocre 74.8 grade so far this season. But the 25-year-old showed much promise in his rookie campaign in 2016 when the edge defender tallied seven sacks in the 12 games he appeared in.
  • Despite recently signing a contract extension for next season, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald continues to dodge questions about his future in the league, reports Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “I’m only focused on Jacksonville,” Fitzgerald said of next week’s opponent. “We lost a tough one today. We’ve got a really, really, really good defense coming in at home this weekend and two good defenses following them (Rams, Titans). We’ve got to focus on that and that’s where all my attention is focused.” This can be expected from Fitz considering that he’s never been one to reveal much to the media, but it’s still notable because of the trying season Arizona is going through for the second straight year. The 34-year-old pass catcher can still clearly play and is putting up numbers to prove it, but football is a tough game and it remains to be seen what he will decide to do moving forward when he has no more games to look to after Week 17.
  • The Saints pulled off a tremendous comeback win when they came back from 15 points down to beat the Redskins in overtime to win their eighth straight game. Safety Kenny Vaccaro made a note of the winning streak on his personal Twitter account today and also made the proclamation that he would be ready to return for the team’s game vs. the Rams next Sunday (Twitter link). The news should be taken with a grain of salt considering the team’s doctors haven’t cleared him to return, but it’s certainly a positive development for New Orleans who have had to be without their starting safety for the past two weeks as he’s been recovering from a groin injury.

Impact Rookies: Chicago Bears

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

First Round – Leonard Floyd, OLB (Georgia, No. 9 overall)

The Bears came into the draft looking to improve the talent on both of their lines. But, they instead traded up from No. 11 to No. 9 to land Georgia ‘backer Leonard Floyd. Hopefully, he survives the rigors of training camp, as his professional debut saw him carted off the practice field after he was overcome by the heat and scrimmage action. Leonard Floyd

When the NFL teams arrived in Athens for the Georgia March 17th Pro Day, they not only wanted to see how Floyd performed in drills, they also wanted to figure out what his best position might be. . That has been the “pleasant” problem for Georgia coaches during the last three years – where to put their top playmaker. It was not as if he could not perform at any of these positions, but more so that he was needed elsewhere to fill the voids created by injuries or poor performances by others. Since first putting on the Georgia uniform, Floyd played all the “name” game positions – Jack, Sam, Mike and Will. He’s lined up as a rush end and even played inside as a defensive tackle for three contests late in the 2014 campaign.

Wherever he has played, Floyd has done so at a high level. He started 32-of-38 games at various positions while recording 184 tackles that saw him deliver 33 of those stops behind the line of scrimmage. He got in on twenty quarterback sacks and pressured opposing passers 54 times. On five of those plays in the backfield, he caused fumbles, recovering two to set up Georgia touchdown drives. All in all, a good day of work is usually the norm for Floyd on Saturdays. Now, he’s likely ticketed for the outside linebacker position on Sundays with Chicago.

Floyd has never been known for being a bulky guy and his thin frame did draw considerable concerns from scouts who analyzed him in 2014. He played at 237 last season after checking in at 220 during his first two years, but impressed team decision-makers with his 244-pound weigh-in at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. While his frame is likely at a maximum growth potential, he demonstrated to the Bears that he has plenty of strength and also eased concerns about his surgically repaired shoulder.

Floyd has that quick first step that will usually see him gain advantage on a slower offensive lineman. He can get up field quickly and reaches the corners with good urgency to push the outside running game back in. He flashes that burst to surprise a lethargic blocker (see 2015 ULM, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri and Georgia Southern games), which allows him to get instant penetration. He has the lateral range to slip into the backfield when working in-line and with his quick hands and feet, he has no problem retreating and chasing down receivers when working in the second level (might be considered as a Sam linebacker because of this). He has the acceleration to take a wide loop around the corner and still pressure the pocket.

He stays low in his pads and has the loose hips to redirect, also displaying the second gear needed to excel in long pursuit. He is a quick twitch type with very active hands and good balance, keeping his feet on the move while doing a nice job of avoiding low blocks. Because of his shoulder surgery, Floyd was limited a bit early in the year, but as the 2015 season progressed, he showed that he actually was getting stronger and quicker deeper into the games, thanks to his excellent athletic ability. There’s no reason to doubt that he can do the same at the next level.

Continue reading about the Bears’ rookie class..

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Bears Sign Leonard Floyd

SATURDAY, 10:05am: The Bears have officially announced the move via Twitter.

FRIDAY, 5:14pm: The Bears have signed their highest-profile draft pick, inking first-round edge rusher Leonard Floyd to a contract, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). With the former Georgia standout now signed, the only remaining player of the Bears’ 2016 class without a contract is third-round defensive end Jonathan Bullard, as noted by PFR’s draft tracker.Leonard Floyd

Floyd became a Bear after they moved up two spots in the draft for him. The club was set to pick 11th overall, but it surrendered a fourth-rounder to Tampa Bay to land the ninth selection and grab Floyd. The 6-foot-4, 231-pounder was a dominant performer during his three-year tenure at Georgia, where he played both outside linebacker and defensive end, racking up 17 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss. He’ll now serve as a prominent member of a Bears defense that also features the likes of Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston as pass-rushing threats.

The Bears’ four-year deal with Floyd will be worth in the $15.78MM range, including a signing bonus worth $9.68MM. It will also feature a fifth-year option for 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Washington, Floyd, Palmer, Saints

Kyshoen Jarrett has visited several specialists this offseason in hopes of reaching a conclusion regarding the nerve damage the Washington safety suffered in Week 17 of his rookie season. The second-year player hasn’t done any work with the team this offseason, and Jay Gruden remains uncertain on Jarrett’s timetable, John Keim of ESPN.com reports.

It remains a possibility that Jarrett misses his entire second season, Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter).

A sixth-round pick last year, the now-23-year-old Jarrett forced a fumble and made 38 tackles as a rookie. The Virginia Tech product started five games for Washington and played in all 16 before going down against the Cowboys in what turned out to be a meaningless contest.

Washington has converted DeAngelo Hall into a safety, signed David Bruton and drafted linebacker/safety Su’a Cravens to help its back line.

Here’s some more on Washington, along with the latest coming out of the NFC.

  • Although Cravens is listed on Washington’s roster as a safety, the former USC talent worked exclusively at inside linebacker during the team’s minicamp, Jones tweets. Cravens lined up at outside ‘backer and at safety with the Trojans, but his professional employer prefers he first acclimate to the inside spot before branching out to nickel and safety assimilation, per Jones.
  • The size disparity between Leonard Floyd and the Bears‘ other primary outside linebackers will be significant this season. DC Vic Fangio expects the team’s top rookie to weigh between 230 and 235 pounds this season, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune reports. Contrast that with Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston, who are both over 270, and it’s a rather notable chasm between players who play the same position. Fangio said multiple times during an interview with Chicago-area media Saturday he wasn’t concerned about the ex-Georgia edge player’s weight. “I’m sure there’s going to be a play or two every game where you’re going to say, ‘Jeez, he’s not heavy enough,’ or, ‘He’s too light,’” Fangio said. “Hopefully there’ll be a few plays every game, too, that we say, ‘Well, jeez, we didn’t have anybody who could have done that in the past.’ He is what he is.”
  • Carson Palmer‘s work with Cardinals consultant Brett Fischer last year helped strengthen his throwing arm, with wideouts and defensive backs noticing quickly he was throwing harder than he had in 2014, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports. Fischer worked with pitchers Randy Johnson and Max Scherzer before aiding Palmer.
  • Kickers Connor Barth and Nate Freese tried out for the Saints today during a workout that consisted of 44 tryout players, Evan Woodberry of NOLA.com reports. Freese was a seventh-round Lions draft choice in 2014. The Saints have Kai Forbath and Josh Scobee on their roster. New Orleans also worked out former Packers seventh-round defensive lineman C.J. Wilson, who played with the Packers from 2010-13, saw short stints with the Raiders and Lions the past two seasons. Entering what would be his age-29 season, Wilson has made 19 career starts and 6.5 sacks.

King’s Latest: Cowboys, Lynch, Ravens, Pats

Peter King of TheMMQB.com spent time last week in the Cowboys‘ draft room as Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones mulled over potential franchise-altering decisions, and King’s latest MMQB column features plenty of tidbits related to the Cowboys’ draft. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Jerry Jones badly wanted Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in the first round, but the Cowboys‘ offer of a second-round pick (No. 34), a fourth-round pick (No. 101), and a sixth-rounder (No. 189) for the Seahawks‘ first-round pick (No. 26) and a seventh-rounder (No. 247) wasn’t enough. Seattle wanted a second- and third-rounder (No. 67) from Dallas, and ultimately went with Denver’s offer instead.
  • The Cowboys had been willing to offer their second- and third-round picks for a selection in the teens or early-20s, but decided not to pull the trigger on that offer for the No. 26 pick. If the target was always Lynch (who was 12th on the Cowboys’ board, per King), it seems odd that Dallas would balk at that asking price at No. 26, since the team would have made the same pick and gotten the QB at a lower salary slot.
  • The Ravens offered their 104th overall pick, a fourth-rounder, in an attempt to move up to No. 4 from No. 6. The Cowboys wanted Baltimore’s third-rounder (No. 70) instead, and ultimately decided to stand pat when the Ravens didn’t increase their offer. Dallas didn’t want to risk missing out on both Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Ramsey — pass rusher Leonard Floyd would have been the Cowboys’ pick at No. 6 in that scenario, and while they liked Floyd, he wasn’t graded as highly as Elliott and Ramsey.
  • After missing out on Lynch, the Cowboys also made an effort to move up for Connor Cook in round four — the team offered its sixth-round pick to the Browns, along with No. 101, for No. 100, but Cleveland chose Oakland’s offer instead, and Dallas ultimately drafted Dak Prescott instead of Lynch or Cook.
  • In non-Cowboys news, King writes that the Ravens had what they considered “reliable information” that the Patriots would try to draft Navy’s Keenan Reynolds in the sixth round. Baltimore beat New England to the punch by nabbing Reynolds with the 182nd overall selection.

Bears Acquire No. 9 Pick From Buccaneers

After the first seven teams in the draft tonight made their own picks, the next two have been traded. The Buccaneers have sent the No. 9 overall pick to the Bears, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Per Jenna Laine (Twitter link), Tampa Bay gets a fourth-round pick (No. 106) from Chicago, in addition to the Bears’ first-round pick (No. 11). The Bears will use the ninth overall pick to select Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

Floyd has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks — indeed, perhaps no player has accrued more buzz over the past few days. Many teams around the top-1o were rumored to be in on Floyd, including the Buccaneers, Bears, and Giants, so it makes sense that Chicago would aim to move ahead of New York. With the Bears, Floyd figures to team with Pernell McPhee in getting after opposing quarterbacks. He’ll join Jerrell Freeman, Danny Trevathan, and Akiem Hicks as part of a remade Chicago defense.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, will get a bit of a financial windfall by moving back to No. 11. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com notes (via Twitter), the fifth-year option for picks made outside of the top 10 is equal to the average of the third through 25th-highest salaries at a given position. Had Tampa stayed at No. 9, a fifth-year option would have been equal to the transition tag figure, always a higher number.