ATHENS — Leonard Floyd has been silent this summer, declining interview requests.
That hadn’t kept him from making plenty of headlines.
Fans worried when he had an MRI on his surgically repaired shoulder in early August, but it was deemed OK.
Floyd then began practicing at inside linebacker, adding to his growing list of positions, his versatility and importance to Georgia’s defense.
And later in August, teammate Davin Bellamy called him “the LeBron James of defense.”
All without a peep from Floyd.
He made his presence felt in Georgia’s season-opening, weather-shortened 51-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe with eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one-half sack.
Floyd started at inside linebacker for the first time and played for the first time since the loss to Georgia Tech last November — a shoulder injury kept him out of the Belk Bowl — but it was tough to tell.
He made Georgia’s first two tackles of the game, the second for a 1-yard loss.
“That felt good,” Floyd said. “It felt like a dream actually because the hole opened up so big. I just went into the hole and made the tackle. It was just that easy.”
Floyd’s philosophy at inside linebacker is to “outrun” everybody.
It certainly looked that way early as he was pursuing Warhawks from sideline to sideline and finished the first quarter with four tackles.
“He was Leonard Floyd being Leonard Floyd,” fellow linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “That’s what he was doing.”
Floyd almost had his first sack with less than a minute left in the second, but Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Garrett Smith backpedaled at the last second and completed his pass.
One play, later, Floyd and Quincy Mauger blew through the left side of the line to catch Smith for a sack.
Having Floyd inside instead of outside is just fine with his teammates.
“I definitely know he’s back there,” defensive tackle Chris Mayes said. “He’s communicating with me and giving me calls and stuff. We still have that bond.”
As for being compared to LeBron James? That’s just fine with Floyd.
“It’s cool,” he said. “LeBron ain’t really a winner like I want him to be. It’s cool though. You could say that. I do play a lot of positions.”