BOURBONNAIS -- Bears DL Akiem Hicks has been talking up third-year OLB Leonard Floyd since the offseason, even when the former first-round pick was only able to coast through practices as he rehabbed from knee surgery.
So Hicks notices that Floyd made his presence felt in Thursday night’s second preseason game, even though the first-team defense played less than a quarter. Floyd forced Bengals QB Andy Dalton to throw early on a pass that CB Kyle Fuller intercepted and returned 47 yards for a touchdown.
“Man, even if he’s not flashy in the way you would want to see your outside linebacker flashing, he’s scaring offenses, you know what I’m saying?” Hicks said just before the Bears’ Saturday night practice at Olivet Nazarene University’s Ward Field. “So he’s already put that intimidation factor in there, and then to come up with the plays on top of that, the sky’s the limit for that guy. You just look at the body of work that he’s had as far as putting it in the past couple years, (and) you’re waiting for that moment where he just takes over the league -- and I think it’s this year.”
Floyd had seven sacks in 12 games as a rookie in 2016 but slumped to 4.5 last year, when he missed six games.
With a high school band playing, the stands packed and lights on in the stadium, Hicks said Saaturday's atmosphere at practice took him back in time.
“It feels kind of like high school,” he said. “You look up in the stands … I’m looking for my mom and dad right now. It’s a good feeling; it’s a great atmosphere.”
Tough week ahead
Second-year TE Adam Shaheen caught three passes for 53 yards, including a 29-yard catch and run, to set up the Bears’ second touchdown after backup QB Chase Daniel relieved Mitch Trubisky.
“It was good Chase was feeding me,” Shaheen said. “I got open for him, and he just threw it my way.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound second-round pick has the size and athleticism to be a factor in the pass game and also as a run blocker. But coming out of Division-II Ashland University, he was not a refined route-runner, though he’s been working to improve.
“It’s just recognizing coverages,” Shaheen said. “It’s a big part of this offense as a receiver. Recognize the coverage and where you need to be. How you get there is everything.”
Shaheen and the rest of the Bears’ tight ends will be tested next week during two joint practice sessions in Denver before Saturday’s game with the Broncos, who have a vast arsenal of edge rushers, including Von Miller, Shane Ray and first-round pick Bradley Chubb.
“Once we saw the schedule, all the tight ends were looking at those guys,” Shaheen said. “It’ll be a good challenge and a good chance to get better.”
The waiting game
After Sunday’s final practice, the Bears’ first-round pick, ILB Roquan Smith will have missed all of training camp. As a team leader, seven-year veteran DL Akiem Hicks was asked how much he was thinking about Smith’s absence.
“I’m not,” Hicks said. “That’s really an area that I find myself outside of. Just getting our defense to what it is right now, getting us ready to go out there and play, that’s the focus. To Roquan, I want the best for him and I want the best for this organization, so either way that goes, I would hope that it gets figured out soon.”
Smith’s ongoing contract stalemate is over possible lost money as the result of suspensions for on-field transgressions. But coaches have not discussed the situation with the players.
“Coaches don’t even tell me when I’m playing and when I’m not playing,” Hicks laughed. “That’s above my pay grade. We can’t make him appear out of nowhere. You play with what you got and go forward.”