Khalil Mack’s arrival has stolen the spotlight from rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, but it’s also successfully taken some of the heat off him, as the 2018 first rounder prepares to make his professional debut.
Make no mistake, we’re excited about seeing both of these defensive standouts on the field. But because we have seen Mack in action and have yet to see Smith take the field since ending his holdout, there’s more of a mystery surrounding Chicago’s first-round pick.
While meeting with the media on Wednesday at Halas Hall, Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy made note that Smith’s hamstring issue was something that popped up during the week of joint practices between the Bears and Broncos in August. That means we’re running on a three-week recovery period for the rookie out of Georgia. HOWEVER, Nagy said the timeline wasn’t unusually long by his standards, and that the team was just doing what they could to ensure he was ready for Week 1.
“He would have tried to probably get out here a little bit sooner than he could,” Nagy said of Smith wanting to return. “But that’s our job, we get paid to make these decisions. I did not want to put him in a position to where he comes out, plays the Buffalo game or the preseason game before that where he does something, and now we don’t have him for this week. I just wanted to be real careful with that.”
If Smith is going to play, it’s probably going to be in a part-time role as Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski take a bulk of the team’s snaps at inside linebacker.
Throughout the offseason, Nagy has stressed the importance (from his perspective) to have as many healthy bodies as possible ready to go against the Packers. This has been a priority for Nagy from the get-go, so it’s no surprise that he’s doubling down and exercising what some might perceive to be extreme caution with the team’s first-round pick. Remember, the Bears aren’t scheduled to have one of those until 2021. They should handle this one with care.