Pernell McPhee knows what he’ll bring the Bears when he returns to games, but his coach is more suspicious.
“Just nasty, hard-nosed, going crazy on the field-type guy,” McPhee said Tuesday, four days after practicing for the first time this season. “Just physical, man.”
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio isn’t so sure about the state of his outside linebacker, who began the season on the physically unable to perform list.
“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” he said. “We got to see how he’s moving around, how he is playing.”
The same goes for fellow outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. The No. 9 overall pick has been inactive the last two weeks, despite his pleas otherwise, while recovering from a calf injury suffered against the Lions.
The 1-5 Bears’ pass rush can use both men — only one player not named Willie Young has recorded a sack the last two weeks — against the Packers on Thursday.
But they might be more dangerous in principle than practice right now. The Bears will only get a spark, Fangio said, if they play well.
“Just by being out there in uniform doesn’t do jack,” he said.
The Bears must take McPhee off PUP if they want him to play Thursday, but it’s unclear if they will; he hasn’t participated in a rigorous practice since last year, before he underwent offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.
He went through a light practice Friday and a glorified walkthrough Tuesday.
“My brothers are out there fighting,” said McPhee, who must be activated by Nov. 4 or shut down for the year. “They put in a lot of hard work. They believe in me. I believe in them, so I want to be out there bad.”
So does Floyd, who has missed three practices in the last two-and-a-half weeks. He said he was upset the team sat him Sunday despite his lobbying effort.
“In college,” he said, “they woulda let me play regardless.”
If there is any benefit to two weeks of Sunday inactivity, though, it’s that he won’t be sore before Thursday’s game.
“Fresh legs,” he said. “I’ve been resting these past two weeks. I feel like I bring fresh legs, effort and the same things I would bring before I was put down with the injury.”
The obvious solution would be to create packages for both players — both to limit their snaps and put them in better position to succeed.
That will prove difficult against the Packers, though, because their no-huddle offense limits the Bears’ chances to make substitutions.
An efficient drive, then, would leave either player gassed — or the Bears flagged for too many men on the field.
“When they get their plays, if they do play, they got to make the most of them,” Fangio said. “And they got to be ready to go. And in this game, they gotta be prepared to stay out there maybe a little bit longer.”
McPhee’s unsure if it will happen Thursday. Asked when he’ll return from PUP, McPhee said it was up to a higher power — and he didn’t mean GM Ryan Pace.
“When everybody wake up and God put it in their mind that it’s time for Pernell to go,” he said. “Yeah, straight up.”