Leonard Floyd is a difficult player to figure out. The former ninth overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Floyd was identified as the perfect fit to play the Von Miller role for the John Fox-led Chicago Bears.
And while Floyd has been a serviceable starter throughout his career, he's failed to develop into the kind of game-changing pass rusher that made him a top-10 pick. He has just 18.5 sacks in 50 career regular-season starts, including three this year.
But that doesn't mean Floyd is any less valued by his coaches, who praised his effort in the Bears' Thanksgiving Day victory over the Detroit Lions. According to defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, Floyd gutted through a rib injury that would've forced most players out of the game. He was given this week's Sweep the Sheds award as a result.
"He got the crap kicked out of him on a play or two," Pagano said from Halas Hall on Monday, "and our trainers came up and said he's probably not going to come back because he got some type of rib injury or whatever it was. And they took him in for some X-rays, I guess. So he came back out and he said there would have to be bone showing for him to come out of the game."
Floyd's toughness against Detroit didn't translate to a high grade from Pro Football Focus, however. He scored a 50.1, which was the fourth-lowest on the Bears' defense and his worst mark of the season.
"I think for him it speaks volumes that he was hurting pretty good," Matt Nagy said of Floyd's ability to play through the pain, "just at a point where we felt like he gutted through it. In this game, it's a physical game, and whether it's mentally, physically, exhaustion -- there's times where you get tired -- and we just appreciate the little things. And that was a little thing in this past game on a short week. He's done a lot of great things and I'm proud of him for it."
Floyd's physical development over the last two seasons has been encouraging for a player who was labeled as an injury risk as a draft prospect because of his slight build. That injury-prone tag proved to be true during his first two seasons when he appeared in just 22 of 32 games.
Floyd started all 16 games last season and is on pace to do the same in 2019.
So while Floyd may never be the kind of sack artist Chicago hoped he'd be, he's certainly taken strides as a pro and is a valuable piece of what's become one of the NFL's top all-around defenses.
Leonard Floyd draws praise from Bears coaches for effort vs. Lions originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago