The NFC North has some pretty talented edge rushers, including one who just missed out on being the best in the division:
Danielle Hunter had the highest pass rushing productivity rating of any NFC North edge defender in 2016. pic.twitter.com/qUg73wyRET
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 19, 2017
Leonard Floyd posted a 65.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2016, which is disappointing because that number falls into the site’s “below average” grade range. However, seeing Floyd rate as well as he did in PFF’s pass rushing productivity rating allows for some optimism to creep in. Floyd finished with seven sacks in 12 games, and projects to be one of the defense’s most important pieces in 2017 because of his pass rushing skills.
For Floyd to reach his peak, he’ll need to stay healthy – and hopefully he’ll be able to avoid missing time due to concussions that took him two months to recover. Because if he does, perhaps the Bears can claw their way out of the NFC North cellar.
- The Chicago Tribune reports that a Green Bay Packers fan is suing the Chicago Bears, accusing the team of violating his free-speech rights because of a team policy that prohibits fans from wearing opposing team’s attire at Bears pregame warmups. Russell Beckman holds season tickets for both the Bears and Packers and is representing himself in the matter. He isn’t looking for damages or to hurt the Bears’ reputation, instead, Beckman wants the Bears to reverse course on the team’s policy.
- As for matters on the field, JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago writes that rookie tight end Adam Shaheen could make an immediate impact upon arrival. Shaheen will be making quite the leap, going from Division II standout to NFL tight end, but his size, skills, and athleticism could team up and provide a spark for an offense that could definitely use a boost after struggling to score points in 2016. Head coach John Fox complimented Shaheen’s smarts and said he has been picking up the offense in practice. It could turn out that Shaheen playing in a pro style offense – even at the Division II level – could help him pick up on similar concepts to what he’ll see in Dowell Loggains’ offense. And if that turns out to be the case, Shaheen’s transition could lead to him becoming the kind of red zone target the Bears lacked last season.
- Over at The Daily Herald, Bob LeGere writes about a group of players who will line up next to Shaheen in the offense – a crop of wide receivers who have a lot to prove in the coming year. The new-look receivers corps has only one returning player who caught at least 20 passes in 2016, and that’s Cameron Meredith. And while Meredith closed the season strong, he is currently injured and is mostly unproven. With eyes on adding some proven pieces who should be motivated to make big things happen while on short-term deals, the Bears signed Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, and Victor Cruz to create a training camp competition. Wright wants to return to the form that made him a 1,000-yard receiver in 2013, while Cruz is out to prove he can still compete at the Pro Bowl level that made him an overnight sensation and fan favorite with the New York Giants. Wheaton can be a forgotten man because he didn’t post the milestone numbers the others have, but he was a deep threat for Ben Roethlisberger and a staple of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. All three players are aiming to be more productive in 2017 than they were in 2016, and if they can do that, the Bears will be better for it.
- On the defensive side of the ball, take a few minutes to get to know defensive lineman Rashaad Coward in the Bears’ latest video post in their “Meet The Rookies” series:
- Coward is an undrafted free agent who has some good odds on making the team. While the Bears spent big to re-work the secondary, the team decided to take a flier on some younger players in an attempt to tweak the defensive line. Coward was one of those players, and he could find himself in the mix for serious playing time if he has a good showing at training camp.
- According to a tweet from his agents, former Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson is signing with the New York Jets. Wilson was one of the many banged-up Bears who ended the 2016 season on injured reserve. He has totaled 56 catches for 777 yards and three touchdowns in his four year career. But after cutting ties with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, the teams are in a perfect position to take a chance on a player like Wilson.
- Decker, by the way, has signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.
- Here’s one former Bears Pro Bowler weighing in on another former Pro Bowler who used to play for the Bears:
@MattForte22 is the teammate that always get you to run two more sprints an extra rep on the weights. Text you on Saturday lets hit the hill
— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) June 20, 2017