Now that Roquan Smith has joined his Bears teammates, it’s all systems go as they push to get him ready for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. But will he get there in time?
Head Coach Matt Nagy met with the media at Halas Hall on Tuesday to discuss that very question, but he came off as unsure and said that he’d have a better grasp of the situation in about a week: “He’s only been here an hour-and-a-half so far, so we’re going to work through that,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to see where he’s at in regards to his shape, his shape his health, football shape, etc. We’ll have some feeling out to do as we go here.”
Smith’s 29-day holdout ended when he signed his rookie contract and joined the team for his first practice on Tuesday. While he is surely happy to be with his teammates, focusing on football, Smith has a lot of catching up to do – both physically and mentally – after missing the entirety of training camp in Bourbonnais. Smith could appear in three preseason games starting with Saturday’s showdown against the Denver Broncos, though it’s more realistic that he debuts on August 25 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.
Nagy said he will consult Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio to see where Smith stands before making decision on the linebacker’s playing status. Smith did say he was able to study his playbook, work out, and communicate with teammates throughout the duration of his holdout. So there’s a chance that Smith isn’t as far behind schedule as one might expect.
Most importantly (for the short- and long-term), Smith has joined the Bears in their trip to Colorado where they will engage in joint practices with the Broncos. It’s possible that scrimmaging with an opponent will help accelerate the learning process Smith needs to undergo in order to debut against the Packers when the regular season begins. In any case, it’s great to be talking about Smith’s possible contributions on the football field rather than the distraction his holdout situation had become off of it.
To watch the entirety of Nagy’s press conference, you can view the embedded video below: