The protection on Leonard Floyd’s hand is getting downgraded again, but you better believe that’s good news.
Bears Radio sideline report Mark Grote tweets Floyd will still wear something protecting his broken right hand, but it is expected to be less than what he wore during the team’s Week 4 win against the Buccaneers.
The latest trim in the protection on the hand Floyd injured during the preseason is part of an encouraging trend. Floyd used a club in Weeks 1 and 2, downgraded to a smaller club in Week 3, and moved into a smaller protective cast – one that allowed usage of his hands – in Week 4. If this continues, it will only be a matter of time when Floyd will play without any protective cast whatsoever. And as far as I’m concerned, the news getting progressively better with every week that passes is a good thing for Floyd (and will be good for the defense as a whole).
Here’s some more good news: Floyd hasn’t been a total non-factor when he has been on the field. Floyd has excelled as a run defender and has refined his skills as a pass-defender. With Floyd rounding out his game elsewhere, he is growing into a more complete player. I suppose that positive development might go overlooked because the expectations were high for him as a pass-rusher, but making plays in other facets of the game means he is still a valuable member of this defense.
But still … Chicago is fortunate to have Khalil Mack and others have cleaned up in the pass-rushing department in Floyd’s absence.
There is no denying Floyd is off to another slow start. The third-year outside linebacker has no sacks, no tackles-for-loss, and just one quarterback hit in four games. It’s not quite the breakout we were hoping to see this season, but as we mentioned above, he hasn’t been a total zero and it would be unfair to grade him as such (even if he hasn’t brought much as far as pass-rush production is concerned).
Plus, there’s still time! It’s early, and while there’s no doubt Floyd’s pass-rush productivity was negatively impacted by trying to make an adjustment and learn to play with a club on his hand, we’ve seen him break out and string together big games before. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that the first could come Sunday on South Beach against the Dolphins.