The start of the 2016 NFL regular season is less than two weeks away, and the Chicago Bears are already dealing with major injuries to key players. They did get some good news when tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal were cleared to practice after passing the concussion protocol. However, that doesn’t change the fact that cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) could possibly be a spectator along with wide receiver Marquess Wilson (foot) when the Bears face the Houston Texans on opening day. But to make matters worse, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee could find himself on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list come September 11.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that McPhee could possibly be put on Chicago’s PUP list, which would keep him from playing at least in the first six games of the season. McPhee hasn’t played since sustaining a knee injury last year, and has been on the mend after having surgery. Wilson and backup quarterback Connor Shaw (leg) are already on the PUP list.
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With such bad new possibly on the horizon considering McPhee, rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd will definitely have to step his game up and live up to the expectations of being the Bears’ first-round selection from this year’s draft. Although Floyd won’t be in the starting lineup come Week 1, he will still be in the thick of things in the defensive rotation amongst fellow outside linebackers Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Sam Acho.
Many say that the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Floyd could struggle as a pass rusher going against offensive linemen who outweigh him tremendously. But, Floyd’s quickness and agility could play to his advantage until he learns to perfect the more technical parts of being an NFL pass rusher. Thus far in the preseason, the Georgia product has recorded four tackles and a half a sack. There is no telling how much playing time Floyd will get in the preseason finale on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. I think he should get just enough to give him a better feel for the game; so playing no more than the first half should suffice, if you ask me.
Floyd has shown some flashes of what he could bring to the table in the first three preseason games. Hopefully, that will roll over into the regular season, whether if McPhee is cleared to play in the season opener or not. The way things are looking overall, Chicago’s defense just might have to carry the team in 2016, since the offensive line is having problems with their protection up front. Along with new acquisitions Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, and Akiem Hicks, and having Houston and Young in addition, Floyd could end up being an x-factor in Chicago’s defense all season long.