Monster’s Mash: Floyd, Howard offer hope for future

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TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 13: Leonard Floyd (94) of the Bears rushes the passer during the NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 13, 2016, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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LAKE FOREST – If you are thinking ahead to the future when it comes to the present Bears, you are in the majority.

When a team is 2-7, the future is what brings hope for better things. Especially lately with two of the Bears’ rookies.

First things first, it begins with first round pick Leonard Floyd, who is beginning to justify the Bears’ selection of him in the top ten in this spring’s draft. In the past three games the outside linebacker has ten tackles and four-and-a-half sacks along with his first NFL touchdown against the Packers.

According to Floyd, it might not be a coincidence that the trio of games came after he missed the majority of three games with a calf injury.

“I felt fresh legs, ever since I came back from the injury I’ve been feeling good,” said Floyd of his improved play. “That’s probably why I’m playing so good.”

Extending his quarterback sack streak to four games could be difficult against a Giants offensive line that’s allowed just 13 sacks this season (T-6 in NFL). Not that it’s going to stop the rookie whose confidence is growing quickly.

“I’m gonna come out 100 miles an hour,” said Floyd of Sunday’s game with the Giants. “That’s all I can do. If there play is there to make, I’m going to make them.”

Meanwhile The Fifth Round Pick…

Floyd was one of the two positive trends that came out of a forgettable afternoon against the Buccaneers in Tampa.

The other is a running back who, despite a first half fumble, continues to be one of the steals of the NFL Draft for not just the Bears but the entire NFL.

Howard reached the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season and a second time in as many weekend. The rookie out of Indiana got exactly that number on 15 carries in the 36-10 defeat.

The effort brings Howard to 605 yards rushing on the season with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average. While shutout in that category last week, the running back also has 17 catches for 177 yards as well this season.

With Jay Cutler’s up-and-down play, the suspension of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for the next four games, along with Kyle Long’s season-ending ankle injury, the Bears may need Howard more than ever.

“If they want to lean on me, I’ll be ready for it,” said Howard. “But I still feel like we can still stick with what we’ve been doing the whole year because we have other guys that will step up and do their job.

Does Cam Feel The Pressure?

Jeffery’s suspension for a violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing substances policy means the Bears will have to turn to others to fire up a struggling passing game.

One of those is second year player Cameron Meredith, who will see his targets likely increase after a steady drop over the past three games.

After 26 catches in the first four games he played this season, Meredith has been targeted just six times in the last three games with just a trio of catches in that time.

“Of course it’s a little added pressure, just because we lost some guys,” said Meredith of replacing Jeffery. “But I think that’s good for us moving forward. That way we know what we have to do. Putting in a little extra work.

“You know we always put in extra work, but I think we’ll put a little bit more emphasis on it this week.”

Stat of the Week: 3

The number of fewer wins that John Fox has in his first 25 games than Marc Trestman did from the start of the 2013 season through the first nine games of 2014.

Fox has a record of 8-17 in that time period while Trestman was 11-14 in his first 25 games.


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