Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
How much progress has Leonard Floyd made in his recovery from a knee injury?
The Bears are pleased with the strides that Leonard Floyd is making. The 2016 first-round draft pick continues to recover from a knee injury he sustained last Nov. 19 against the Lions that forced him to miss the final six games last season. Floyd returned to practice early this week and even participated in some 7-on-7 drills Said coach Matt Nagy: “He’s doing more each day. He’s happy with his progress. We’re happy with his progress. We feel really good that by training camp we’ll be rocking and rolling.” Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters that he expects Floyd to be “full speed and ready to go at training camp.” Fangio acknowledged that missing the final six games last year delayed Floyd’s development, saying: “It has; there’s no way around that. Everybody needs as many reps in practice as they can get. He’s really anxious to [do more in practice]. He’s been begging the trainers and medical people to let him out there a little earlier.”
Annandale, New Jersey
It’s difficult to say at this juncture before the pads have come on at training camp, but I would agree that the two players you mentioned have the best chance to earn a spot on the final roster. The key to accomplishing that feat for an undrafted free agent is to pick up the scheme quickly, possess excellent physical traits, have some position versatility and perform well on special teams in the preseason. Ryan Nall is someone who can play running back or fullback and appears well-suited to excel on special teams, while Toliver definitely has the talent to play in the NFL. Punter Ryan Winslow is another undrafted free agent to watch; he’s performed well in offseason practices, but incumbent Patrick O’Donnell will be difficult to unseat. In case you were wondering, no undrafted free agents have made the Bears’ opening day 53-man roster the past two seasons. In 2015, three undrafted rookies made the cut: Receiver Cameron Meredith, linebacker John Timu and defensive back Bryce Callahan.
Given how creative I expect the Bears offense to be this season, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel on the field together on occasion. Both are small dynamic explosive playmakers who are a threat to go the distance each time they touch the ball. Here’s what coach Matt Nagy recently had to say about putting Cohen and Taylor on the field together: “I could care less about size. I just think you put the best football players out there for that personnel group, for scheme, and for the play that we have. We like to have some flexibility in what we do. What that does is force the defense to change up now a little bit how they play personnel-wise.”