Although we’ve had our ups (the draft, free agency) and downs (injuries, prospect holdout) over the year, optimism has been running pretty high around these parts lately, as the Bears organization seems to finally be heading in a different, more inspiring direction.
And that all came to a head after the team’s 2018 first-round pick, Roquan Smith, ended his holdout, came to an agreement with the team, and indicated that he was preparing to participate in Saturday’s preseason contest against the Kansas City Chiefs.
And then it all came crumbling down, as news of Smith’s hamstring tightness popped up to throw a wrench into the spokes of our tandem bicycle of positivity. *sad trombone sound*
To be clear, Smith could still practice on Wednesday, putting him back on schedule in the process, but the Bears exercised caution when choosing to sit him in last Saturday’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos and following a similar course of action this time around would be wise, as well. With that said, the vibe after his press conference (more on it below) was that he was either going to play or at least be in a good position to where he’d be prepared to play in the season-opener against the Green Bay Packers on September 9th.
Beyond that, the Bears first rounder addressed several other pressing topics while meeting with the assembled media at Halas Hall on Tuesday. And here are some of the highlights, alongside some thoughts of my own.
Smith Weighs in on Game Speed
Even though Smith didn’t play, he was stationed on the sidelines with his teammates and a front-row seat for the action. So while Smith didn’t get a taste of game speed himself, he was presented an opportunity to get a glimpse at what it looked like: “Just from looking at it, it doesn’t seem too much different from when you’re going full-speed in practice. So I don’t think it’s too different.” It was also good to hear Smith discuss how he stayed in shape during his holdout:
Roquan Smith says he worked with Georgia’s strength and conditioning staff while he was away from the #Bears.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 21, 2018
Is Smith the Pass-Rush Help the Bears are Looking For?
Not necessarily, but Smith came away with 6.5 sacks last season at Georgia. So it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio gets creative with a talented and instinctual defender in an attempt to make up for the lack of pass-rush elsewhere. And it sounds like Smith is up to the task.
“I feel like can blitz. I did a little bit of it back at Georgia. Haven’t done it on this level yet, but I definitely think I have the traits to be a great one.”
On His New Defense Being a lot Like His Old One
Sometimes, football can be a very simple game … even from the perspective of an inside linebacker. Because Smith won’t step in right away and be expected to call plays, he can relax and focus on using his athleticism and instincts to make plays. And if all else fails, he can channel his inner-Bulldog and channel his muscle memory from his Georgia days because of the similarities he has found in this Bears defense.
“It’s not that bad because we ran a very complex defense at Georgia, and it took me like a year to get it. But actually having concepts now, because prior to getting to Georgia I didn’t really know concepts like that. Everything is conceptual and it just falls back in line.”
You can check out the rest of the press conference below.