Watching tape of Monday night's win over the Vikings, Bears coach John Fox liked what he saw from outside linebackers Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd.
Both players took another positive step in their return from injury by recording a sack as part of a strong defensive performance in a 20-10 victory at Soldier Field.
"I think we're better with those guys out there," Fox said Tuesday at Halas Hall. "We went through a stretch where we had different guys, but they've been a boost for us for sure.
"Losing Lamarr [Houston to a knee injury] was a setback earlier in the season, but getting those two guys back out there increases our depth and really kind of keeps us fresher as far as guys we're rolling through there in what we call a wave. The more they're out there and the more experience they get the more things they can handle."
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee played in his second straight game after missing the first six weeks of the season.
McPhee played in his second straight game after missing the first six weeks of the season while recovering from surgery to repair a knee injury that bothered him last November and December. The 2015 free-agent acquisition brings toughness and a nasty demeanor to the Bears defense.
"That's why he was voted a captain," Fox said. "That's why we like doing it amongst their peers. They gravitate to him. He brings a certain energy, and not just on game day. Most of these guys realize they get paid to practice. They play for nothing; that's the fun part. He brings that every day."
Floyd now has three sacks in two games since sitting out two contests with a calf injury. Asked where he's seen the most growth in the first-round draft pick, Fox said: "Just a comfort level with the speed and strength of the game, adapting to what we're asking from him scheme-fit-wise.
"He had some setbacks as far as minor injuries to lose some of that developmental time. But he's put a couple weeks together where he's been able to practice and perform in games and you're seeing more consistency as we move forward."
Offensively, Fox was impressed with how replacements Eric Kush and Ted Larsen performed in place of the injured Josh Sitton and Kyle Long at left guard and right guard, respectively. Kush and Larsen were part of an offense that amassed 403 yards, committed no turnovers and allowed just one sack against the NFL's No. 1 defense.
Before joining the Bears this season, Larsen appeared in 86 games with 57 starts over six seasons with the Buccaneers (2010-13) and Cardinals (2014-15), while Kush played in 10 contests with one start for the Chiefs (2013) and Rams (2015).
"Both are veteran guys," Fox said. "They're not rookies. They've got some experience in the league. I thought both of them performed pretty well to step in. You miss guys like Kyle and Josh for obvious reasons. But it's a team game; it's 11 guys doing the right thing at the right time. We did that probably more consistently, even with some backup guys in there. It's a testament to them, their coaches and their preparation."