With only one 2017 draft choice spent on defense, and that player — Alabama safety Eddie Jackson, fourth round — being held out as part of rehab from a broken leg suffered last October, the defensive report on this weekend’s rookie minicamp would be ... well ... maybe later.
More to the bigger Bears point than the influx of rookies is the virtual tsunami of veteran players that point to likely no fewer than six new starters from the lineup that finished the 2016 season.
The number might have been as high as seven but middle linebacker Danny Trevathan’s return from a ruptured patellar tendon, suffered in the Nov. 27 loss to the Tennessee Titans, is problematic at this point.
“I think that's in question whether he'll be ready [by training camp] at that point,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
But the defense, which stumbled badly when nose tackle Eddie Goldman was out with an ankle injury, has added two starting cornerbacks – Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper — plus a starting safety – Quintin Demps — and added mass on the defensive line with Jaye Howard and John Jenkins.
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The key, however, projects to be Leonard Floyd, whose otherwise standout rookie season (7 sacks) was hampered by two concussions and a total of four missed games.
“He’s got a foundation of a year behind him, and he was only available about half the time last year,” Fangio said. “He had a bunch of those little injuries that interrupted his progress throughout the season. Hopefully with the year under his belt, getting in better shape, better condition, and take off. If he stays healthy, I feel good about him.
“He had a nice stretch there. I don’t remember the exact games, maybe it was like Game 9-12 where he was practicing and playing and you could see him coming. Then he got dinged twice in the last two games, or the last four games and it interrupted again.”
The Bears did not pick up the fifth-year option on cornerback Kyle Fuller, a distinct longshot after missing all of 2016 with a knee injury and clearly not a favorite of this coaching staff. But Fangio is declaring “competition,” which could give Fuller a shot at restarting a career that has faltered badly.
“Absolutely, I mean, it's wide open,” Fangio said. “I hope to see Kyle healthy and out there running around. Moving like he's 100 percent, and we'll go from there.”