BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd’s improvement in Year 2 was apparent on the first defensive play against the Denver Broncos on Thursday when he sacked Trevor Siemian.
“It was a good start, but there’s still some errors I made,” Floyd said.
Linebacker Sam Acho said Floyd isn’t backsliding in his second year after a seven-sack rookie season.
“He’s hungry,” Acho said. “He just wants to be great. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, Leonard wants to be great.
“He wants to do all the little things that it takes to be great, he has all the ability to be great, and we’re pushing him.”
–Sherrick McManis remains a valued special teams player and if any of the young defensive backs are to take his roster spot they’re obviously going to have to prove they can play some special teams.
McManis isn’t alone. Both wide receiver Josh Bellamy and linebacker Christian Jones have become core special teams players.
“Christian Jones, his growth and development was probably as impressive as anybody on the roster,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “It was just a noticeable jump how fast he caught on. I’m sure it has something to do with guys maturing in the league, being around three, four years.
“He was right most of the time last year. It was important to him. He sat kind of in the middle of our meeting room the previous year, and he was up front last year. Just everything about him, his growth as a player, was just really impressive. He was one of our better guys last year.”
–The biggest special teams question starting camp was who would handle punt returns. After the game, it appeared there are two punt returners, as both rookies Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen did it smoothly.
“Tarik is a little more explosive,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “Eddie is a little more smooth. Eddie is a little bigger.
Cohen had a 17-yard return in the game with Denver.
–Somewhat of a disappointment as a rookie, second-year defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard started to show improvement in camp and enjoyed a solid night against Denver. He had two tackles and one stopped a third-and-short play.
“He’s doing better, he’s much more mature physically,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He weighs, if you can believe it, almost a little bit too much right now, so his weight’s not an issue.”
Bullard started camp at 283 last year, but is at 296 now.
“I think he’s more mentally and emotionally ready for the rigors of playing in the NFL trenches against grown men,” Fangio said. “And we’re hopeful. I like where he’s at now, I think his arrow’s pointing up. We’ll see how far it goes up.”
Bullard’s progress should be measured in more than sacks, Fangio said, pointing out Jadeveon Clowney had only six sacks last year and the Bears had three players with more and no one talked about their pass rush.
“Sacks aren’t the only thing,” Fangio said. “OK, so, is he doing good against the run? Is he giving us some pressure in pass, besides the sack. So some of it you’ll notice, but some you won’t.”
–Guard Kyle Long gradually increased his participation after rehab from ankle surgery and head coach John Fox called his availability for Week 1 of the regular season a possibility.
“There’s concern for everything, that’s what we do,” Fox said. “But he’s on target and we feel good about where he is right now.”
Long practiced with the full squad in part of Saturday’s scrimmage.
Notes: Linebacker Danny Trevathan (knee) is expected to participate in some 7-on-7 at practice this week before eventually getting involved in full team practice. … Cornerback Bryce Callahan (ankle) missed some practice time with a minor injury suffered during the week before the game with Denver. … Running back Ka’Deem Carey (thigh) suffered a bruise while low-blocked on a kickoff and was held out of weekend practices. … Linebacker Jordan Anderson (ankle) will be out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain. Anderson had an X-ray and it was negative for a fracture. … Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (concussion) was fine after the game, but had symptoms in the days afterward and is being held out of practice. … Safety Deon Bush (head) suffered a head injury in the game, but passed the concussion protocol.