At first glance, the Bears experienced the worst possible result from their preseason game against the Broncos on Saturday night as Adam Shaheen and Leonard Floyd left the exhibition with undisclosed ankle and hand injuries, respectively. A few days later, sunlight is shining through the clouds and the severity of both ailments appear to not be as serious as originally feared.
Shaheen’s injury was already reported to be a low ankle sprain, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Sunday. The Bears are still evaluating the severity of the sprain, but the big tight end might be able to play in the regular season opener roughly three weeks from now.
Meanwhile (and more importantly), during the Bears’ weekly Monday press conference with Matt Nagy the head coach announced that Floyd underwent surgery to repair a broken index and middle finger on his right hand. Nagy characterized the injury as not something that’s expected to fully heal by Week 1 against the rival Green Bay Packers. However, he also didn’t rule out the 25-year-old edge rusher for any games.
“He’ll have to play through it,” Nagy said of Floyd.
How Floyd will play through it is simple: there are casts and athletic braces available to the Bears’ disposal if they deem Floyd’s injury healed enough roughly three weeks from now. This might mitigate Floyd’s hand usage early on, but at least he’ll be able to play.
Floyd, the Bears’ prized first round pick at No. 9 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, enters a crucial 2018 season for both his career and Chicago’s defense. The injury struggles the talented edge rusher has gone through from two concussions as a rookie to a torn MCL in 2017 are well-documented.
For a defense lacking much of any other proven or dynamic pass rushers on the edge, Floyd’s presence and ability to stay healthy will be monitored closely this season. Remember that a fifth-year option decision on his rookie contract comes around next May. If Floyd can play through this initial setback and still thrive, perhaps the Bears can survive their lack of depth behind and opposite the 6-foot-6, 250 pound pass rusher. And perhaps Chicago will elect to keep him around long term.
Needless to say, Floyd’s availability is crucial, and the Bears may have dodged a large and fast bullet. That’s especially considering how little other talent they have at his pass rushing position. If Floyd’s injury was anything more substantial, Chicago would have been in dire DEFCON 1 straits (trading for Khalil Mack?).
In two seasons in the NFL, Floyd has 47 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He’s expected to heavily build on those numbers with the Bears in 2018, and he’ll have to do it with a slight handicap to start.
Robert is an editor, writer, and producer for Windy City Gridiron, The Rock River Times, The Athletic Chicago, and other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.