Leonard Floyd's loss further depletes Bears' linebacker depth

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Former Chicago Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd's right knee injury strips the defense of its best edge rusher.

Floyd, selected ninth overall in 2016, wasn’t necessarily playing at a Pro Bowl level, but he can bring some serious heat off the edge when he rushes the passer.

Case in point: Floyd blew past Lions right tackle Rick Wagner and nearly strip-sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford close to the goal line in the second quarter of Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Detroit.

That was just a sample of the type of disruption Floyd can cause.

Floyd already has 11.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in only 22 career games.

Productivity like that isn’t easy to replace.

With veteran outside linebacker Willie Young (32 career sacks ) already on injured reserve, the Bears are expected to lean heavily on Sam Acho (34 snaps vs. Detroit) and Pernell McPhee (41 snaps).

McPhee, 28, is one of Chicago’s highest-paid defenders ($7.325 million), but the Bears are typically cautious with the seven-year veteran, given McPhee’s history of knee problems/surgeries.

Playing it safe with McPhee is completely out the window.

“It ain’t [going to be] hard for me to pick up the load,” McPhee said on Sunday. “I’m bred to do this.”

Maybe so, but McPhee’s role has been limited since the midway point of 2015, when he started to experience knee problems.

McPhee never quite has recaptured the dominance he displayed over his first seven games in a Bears’ uniform when he posted five sacks, one interception and seven tackles for loss.

McPhee has four sacks through 10 games in 2017.

After McPhee and Acho (a proven veteran), the Bears' only other healthy outside linebacker Isaiah Irving, who played two snaps on defense in the Lions game.

“Most of his playing time has been on fourth down, he’s had a little bit of action on defense and that’s something that he’d definitely be in line to get more reps,” coach John Fox said.