Value in Joint Practices, Bears Fans Travel, No Regrets for Smith, and Other Bullets

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Value in Joint Practices, Bears Fans Travel, No Regrets for Smith, and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

Today marks Day 1 (of two) Bears and Broncos joint practices in Denver. The Bears participated in similar practices in 2015 and 2016, but did not do so in 2017. I love the idea of the Bears getting their hands on another team in preparation for the regular season, and I’m sure Bears players are tired of hitting each other in practice.

  • Just don’t get too handsy:

  • I was really impressed with how Bears fans traveled when I saw them in Canton for Brian Urlacher’s Hall of Fame enshrinement. But to travel to Colorado to watch practice? Well, that’s a horse of a different color:

  • I haven’t taken a deep dive into the Broncos’ roster just yet, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there could be some hidden value in practicing in Colorado. Back when the Bears practiced against the Patriots a few years ago, it allowed the team to get a glimpse at backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and other players who could later become available on the market. And while the Bears didn’t ultimately land Garoppolo, they did snag Cre’von LeBlanc after he was let go by the Patriots. LeBlanc was an undrafted free agent who played well and was a standout contributor at practice. But because New England was pretty loaded at the position, he was the odd-man out who wasn’t out of a job for long. Maybe this group of Broncos has a LeBlanc waiting in the wings in search of an opportunity that isn’t there in Denver but could arise in Chicago.
  • Roquan Smith expressed a “happy to be here” vibe when meeting with reporters on Tuesday, choosing to focus on getting himself into gear instead of dwelling on what led to the holdout in the first place. As Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune notes, Smith chalks the holdout to being “just the business side of things.” No regrets here for Smith … and why would there be? The Bears got their first-round pick in the fold in time to get him ready for the regular season. The player received the guarantees he was hoping to get from the team that started the ball rolling on the holdout in the first place. Everyone’s a winner, save for those of us who wanted to see Smith in Bourbonnais with our own eyes, I suppose.
  • Moving forward, the goal is to get Smith ready to roll when the Bears take their talents north of the border, into Green Bay. ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes the Bears’ signing of Smith came just in time to make that a reality:

  • Over at 247Sports, Zack Pearson tries to piece together expectations for when we can see Smith make his Bears debut. Pearson believes the most realistic target is still a debut against the Kansas City Chiefs on August 25 at Soldier Field, leaving an outside chance that Smith plays (and possibly starts) against the Packers in Week 1 of the regular season.
  • The Bears drafted Smith with the hope that he would be a plug-and-play impact player from the get-go, as many SEC defensive standouts tend to be. Smith was an All-American who earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and brought home the Dick Butkus Award that’s given out to college football’s best linebacker. Those types of talents should adapt quickly and contribute immediately. So no wonder John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago sees Smith’s arrival as the team gaining a building block for the future, as well as the present.
  • It’s good to see this developing special teams ace make an impact as a safety:

  • Seeing DeAndre Houston-Carson earn high grades from PFF for his work as a safety is encouraging because he’s most known for his special teams work. Houston-Carson was a late-round pick in 2016 and has been part of a crowded secondary since being drafted. And while he hasn’t been able to get his shine on behind Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson, Houston-Carson has excelled as a special teams contributor. The Bears didn’t have too many bright spots there in 2017, but Houston-Carson has shown versatility and a willingness to put in work and get things done whenever called upon. Showing that ability on defense can only further help his cause to earn a spot on the season-opening 53-man roster.
  • We hope 2018 isn’t a year where we’ll have our eyes on the 2019 NFL Draft at the outset of the season. But we can’t help ourselves whenever we see a mock draft. Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network shares all-too-early mock draft has the Bears using the third pick on Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa. The younger brother of Chargers standout Joey Bosa, Nick fits a projected need as an edge defender and is arguably the best prospect at his position. While I don’t find myself concerned with the draft just yet, I still don’t love that oddsmakers see the Bears having the third worst record in football (which leads The Draft Network to giving the Bears the No. 3 overall pick).

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Author: Luis Medina

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