Vic Fangio is convinced that Leonard Floyd will make a giant leap in his second NFL season if the outside linebacker can avoid the nagging injuries that hampered him last year as a rookie.
"He had a bunch of those little injuries that interrupted his progress throughout the season," said the Bears defensive coordinator. "Hopefully with the year under his belt, getting in better shape, better condition, he'll take off. If he stays healthy, I feel good about him."
Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd recorded 51 tackles and seven sacks in 12 games last season.
Floyd was slowed by shoulder, calf and hamstring injuries early last year before sustaining two concussions in a five-week span in November and December. He recorded 51 tackles and seven sacks in 12 games, and generated two huge plays—scoring a touchdown on a strip/sack of the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and producing a safety with a sack of the 49ers' Blaine Gabbert.
During a five-game span from Oct. 20-Dec. 4, Floyd registered 27 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Fangio said he would give Floyd an "incomplete" grade for his rookie season, adding that "he had a nice stretch there where he was practicing and playing and you could see him coming. Then he got dinged twice and it interrupted again. But I feel good about him."
Asked what would constitute a successful offseason for Floyd, Fangio said: "That he reports to camp in great shape; better shape than he was in last year. And that he's got a great understanding of his position and what's expected of him."
Same boat: Another young Bears defender who needs to stay healthy to reach his potential is nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who was limited to just six games last year by an ankle injury.
"Eddie only played 15 percent of the plays last year, which is very small, so we missed him," Fangio said. "He was primed to have a good season, so if we can get him back to where he was, and a little better, I think we'll have a good player there."
Goldman started strong, compiling six tackles and half a sack in the season opener, but he suffered a high ankle sprain a week later in a loss to the Eagles. He returned to play in four more contests but ultimately was placed on injured reserve due to the ankle injury.
Goldman showed promise as a rookie second-round pick in 2015, recording 39 tackles, 4.5 sacks and six tackles-for-loss while appearing in 15 games with 12 starts.
Better prepared: Fangio also has high expectations for defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a 2016 third-round pick who didn't make much of an impact last year as a rookie.
Bullard appeared in 14 games with one start, registering 24 tackles and one sack.
"Jon didn't play a whole lot last year," Fangio said. "Hopefully he's ready. You always look for a lot of improvement from Year 1 to Year 2.
"I think he's better prepared now to play in the trenches of the NFL than he was last year. He's gotten a little bit bigger. He understands more of what's expected of him playing in the NFL, in the trenches. I don't think he was quite ready for that last year, both physically or mentally. Emotionally, I think he's more ready. We're hopeful that he does well."
Double threat: The Bears plan to give second-year defensive back Deiondre' Hall reps at both cornerback and safety during their offseason practices.
After playing both positions at Northern Iowa, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick lined up exclusively at cornerback last year as a rookie, compiling seven tackles and one interception while being limited to eight games by an ankle injury.
"He's going to do both," Fangio said. "We're going to float him back and forth. He's had some experience there in college. When it comes to picking your team, and you're going to pick nine or 10 DBs to make your team, if somebody's got versatility and can play multiple spots, that helps. So we're going to see if he's one of those guys."