The Bears Play Thursday (With or Without Roquan Smith) and Other Bullets

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The Bears Play Thursday (With or Without Roquan Smith) and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

It’s back to football time for the Chicago Bears, who are set to play the Baltimore Ravens in three days. Huzzah! OK, we realize it’s the first of five preseason games – one where our favorite players won’t play long and some might not even be active – but it’s still going to get our juices going just a little bit. After all, it’s preseason for us, too.

Happy Game Week!

  • If you took the weekend off to unplug, I’ve got some good and bad news for you. The good news is that you didn’t miss the news of Roquan Smith signing his rookie deal. The bad news is that the situation is more complicated than previously believed. Head Coach Matt Nagy revealed the hangup keeping Smith from signing and reporting to camp has to do with the NFL’s new helmet rule and ensuring the guaranteed money in his contract stays guaranteed. HOWEVER, it might not be as simple as that. Reports have surfaced that there are other protections Smith seeks beyond the helmet rule complication. In short, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a quick and tidy solution to the matter.
  • I feel like Robert Zeglinski of The Rock River Times puts it best as he sees the Bears setting an unfortunate precedent and creating a headache for themselves when other teams have already set precedent by giving players the same protections Smith is looking for in his contract. This has turned out to be a monumentally silly thing for which the Bears to draw a line in the sand and stand their ground. And by doing so, the Bears are hurting themselves by keeping their first-round pick from participating in valuable snaps at camp and could damage their relationship with the player (and his agents) in the future. The Bills got fellow linebacker Tremaine Edmunds’ deal done 17 days after the Virginia Tech product was selected with the 16th overall pick. And unless Smith signs and reports after Bullets are posted (wouldn’t that be fun!?) we’ll have gone 14 days into Bears camp without seeing its prized top-10 pick on the field.
  • There hasn’t been much from GM Ryan Pace regarding the situation, but he preached patience in a recent SiriusXM NFL radio interview:

  • At least inside linebacker is a position where the Bears have some quality depth. Third-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski seems to be taking advantage of the newfound practice time. Kwiatkoski has been ballin’ out with the first-stringers and making plays as a pass defender with some interceptions, too. He was quietly one of the league’s better inside linebackers last season and continued to show why early this summer. Between Smith’s holdout and Danny Trevathan’s hamstring injury, there are plenty of reps to go around for the rest of the young inside linebackers who are fighting to make a good impression.
  • Moving inside-out, John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago writes about rookie Kylie Fitts trying to prove he has the potential to be an impact defender. The Bears don’t have the kind of quality of depth at outside linebacker that they do on the interior, so it’s imperative that someone from that group steps up and becomes a surprisingly adequate contributor immediately. Fitts could be that guy. Even though he was a sixth-round pick because of an injury history that raised a variety of red flags during the pre-draft process, Fitts has prospect pedigree as a top-100 high school player and unique athleticism. Fitts almost gave up football during his college years, but is in a position to make the Bears glad he didn’t make that decision.
  • Fitts has surely made a strong impression on long-time talent evaluator Phil Savage:

  • Now as we slide from one side of the ball to another, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton unearths a sleeper from each of the league’s 32 teams and believes wide receiver Taylor Gabriel is that guy for the 2018 Bears. I suppose Gabriel can get lost in the shuffle behind the marquee signing of fellow receiver Allen Robinson and the team’s bold move to wiggle their way back into the second round of the draft to select Anthony Miller. And yet, it’s hard to see Gabriel as a sleeper as he appeared on the Bears’ depth chart as the starter opposite of Robinson. Gabriel could fly under the radar, if Robinson and Mitch Trubisky build a rapport quickly, if the running game takes off, and several other players leap-frog past him on the depth chart. But after receiving a four-year contract that comes with $14 million fully guaranteed, I doubt he’s going to be slept on this season.
  • Speaking of Robinson, Mike Tagliere of predicts the Bears’ WR1 will make for a solid choice as the WR2 of your fantasy football team. Tagliere does some deep diving into what Robinson’s target shares could be, what went into his decline from 2015 to 2016, and projects a rosy outlook for 2018 that features 67 catches, 918 yards, and seven touchdowns. It would be a bit disappointing for Robinson not to reach the 1,000-yard milestone, but this would represent a productive season and would qualify as “rock-solid” status among fantasy No. 2 receivers.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.