Even after Roquan Smith had been ruled out from the Preseason Week 3 game between the Bears and Chiefs, there was an outside chance the rookie linebacker would be ready to roll for some game snaps in the preseason finale this Thursday.
And while it’s almost unheard of for a starting-caliber player like Smith to get in on the action during Preseason Week 4, considerations were different for Smith, because of his lengthy holdout after the draft and the recent hamstring issues that have limited him in practice. However, Head Coach Matt Nagy clarified the situation during his Tuesday afternoon press conference, and it’s a mix of good and bad news:
Matt Nagy said Roquan Smith had a "better day" at practice on Tuesday. That’s two good practices in a row for the rookie. Yippee!!
But (there’s always a but!) Nagy cautioned that it’s looking like he won’t play vs. Bills on Thursday.
More from Nagy here ⤵️ https://t.co/fb8TwrZXjh
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) August 28, 2018
As for the good news, it’s obviously nice to hear that Smith has put together two good practices in a row. No, that probably shouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but it certainly feels like it, right? Smith is clearly making progress from a health standpoint, which is good news for him, as well as the team’s defense as a whole.
Unfortunately, life maintains a balance and Smith doesn’t seem to have progressed enough to get some preseason game reps under his belt before making his professional debut. All things equal, you’d probably want to see Smith get his feet wet in a game where the final score doesn’t matter, but that’s where we are (hey, at least the Bears can use their fifth preseason game to further evaluate players on the roster bubble … that’s something, right?)
In the end, it’s probably a better big-picture decision to ensure Smith is fully healthy whenever he gets his NFL career officially under way.
But that’s where we get to the REALLY good news. From the sound of things, that day could be coming as soon as the regular season opens up:
Nagy says there’s “still a good chance” Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith will play vs. Packers in Week 1.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) August 28, 2018
I feel like sacrificing some preseason game reps in order to have Smith ready to play in Week 1 of the regular season represents a fair trade-off. Sometimes in life, you give a little to get a little. And when push comes to shove, the hope is that Smith can give a lot by the time his rookie season is in the books.