Today marks the last training camp practice before Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs. How exciting is that? Football is coming. Football is almost here.
OK, I get it. Preseason football isn’t for everyone. But there is a comfort in seeing that first snap and hearing the clashing of pads worn by players on opposing teams. Only two more sleeps until we get that feeling again.
- Training camp practices aren’t always highly anticipated, but this one feels different as I wake up. That’s because this is the first practice in which star linebacker Roquan Smith is eligible to practice with his Bears teammates. Smith began camp on the physically unable to perform list. Not because anything was wrong, mind you. But because he was planning to sit out anyway as he was awaiting for a solution to his contract dispute. The 25-year-old linebacker is entering the final year of his deal and wants an extension. But with negotiations stalling, Smith put in a trade request publicly through NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. And one day after doing so, the Bears took him off the PUP list. Drama!
- It can all be so simple, sometimes: Smith’s activation from the PUP list subjects him to fines ($40K per day, via the Trib’s Colleen Kane) if he doesn’t practice. I don’t believe the Bears *HAVE* to fine him. The team can choose not to do so. But after being dragged publicly after playing nice by putting Smith on the PUP list while his contract matter went unresolved, I think the time to handle things with care is over. This thing could get ugly.
- Ah, well, at least this kinda-sorta counts as good news:
- Smith’s teammates are hopeful for a swift resolution, writes 670 The Score’s Chris Emma. I can’t say I blame ’em. Let’s keep in mind that Smith is a stud defender. Despite not earning a Pro Bowl appearances yet, Smith has two second-team All-Pro nods and has been a tackling machine since arriving on scene. And if Shaquille (Formerly Darius) Leonard is a shining example of how valuable an elite talent can be at that position in Matt Eberflus’ defense, then perhaps we’ve Smith only scratch the surface of his potential. So … yeah, I’d want to see him in the lineup, too. If I were a neutral party, I’d have minimal interest in watching the Bears defense after browsing through the linebackers depth chart. It isn’t pretty.
- A worthwhile quote from Darnell Mooney on the Smith saga, via Emma’s piece linked above: “You see that all the time with players trying to put the heat on the organization just trying to get a deal done. It’s nothing that I can do or anything, so I’m just looking from afar.” It is probably notable that Mooney is looking from afar, seeing that he is eligible for an extension of his own when the season ends. And if he puts up a second consecutive 1,000-yard season as he further establishes himself as this team’s top receiver, Mooney could be in line for a contract that is along the lines of Diontae Johnson or Terry McLaurin. With that in mind, I’m watching from afar as Mooney watches from afar.
- One of Smith’s former teammates, Cordarrelle Patterson, has changed his Twitter profile pic in a sign of solidarity with Smith. Buddy, I’ll tell ya, watching Patterson recruit online is a lot more fun when he is on your favorite team than when he is on another team trying to poach one of your favorite players.
- For what it’s worth, the Falcons are a team that popped up on an ESPN list of reported squads that NFL executives believe could swing a deal for the Bears linebacker. Ryan Pace, the Bears’ former GM who chose Smith with a top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is a senior adviser in Atlanta. Pace should know what number to dial if he wants to cut a deal with his old club.
- SI.com’s Albert Breer chimes in to opine on teams he sees as possible fits. One team Breer believes make some since are the Broncos, who he believes Smith could be seen as “a heart-and-soul player” for a defense the same way Russell Wilson is for the offense. Also on the list are the Chargers, who have a win-now window, a potential need if Kenneth Murray’s health is an issue, and Bears ties with Brandon Staley and Khalil Mack. The Cowboys pop up as a fit in Breer’s eyes because it could allow the team to be more creative with linebacker Micah Parsons, the defense’s most dynamic defender. So let’s keep an eyes on these teams to see if some sniffing around occurs.
- One last Roquan Roundup bit is this thread I did after the PUP list activation. Give it a read for a full bit of perspective.
- In some good news from camp, here are some Justin Fields updates:
Watching this offense practice has been uneven at best. But it hasn’t been ALL bad:
- One thing I think some folks can lose sight of while watching summertime practices is that the whole point of practice is to work on stuff. That whole practice makes perfect cliché is a thing for a reason. Clichés become a thing because there is a hint of truth to them. And the reality is that the Bears offense is at the ground floor of a building process. I’m not here to build excuses for this team, nor do I want to do it. But the truth is this: There will be clunky times for a unit featuring a first-year play-caller installing a new scheme for a second-year quarterback after an offseason in which the front office didn’t address offensive concerns by making significant upgrades in the trenches or at playmaking positions.
- In other words: The Bears’ primary concern right now, at this stage of training camp, should be to continue stacking days of progress. Let’s see if they have another one in them today.
- An example of stacking days and making progress:
- Sigh. The Soldier Field turf causing problems for the Bears is a tale as old as time. But in August? Nah, that can’t happen. That is inexcusable.
- Sun-Times reporter Jason Lieser drilled it with this tease:
- What is really annoying about this whole situation is that – back in 2018 – it was looking like the Bears/city of Chicago finally got it together. The Bears made the switch to a turf from a renowned New Jersey turf farm that specializes in pro sports stadium grass. That issues are already popping up is a problem. The city of Chicago, which owns and operates Soldier Field, should be doing better by its top tenants.
- If you’re the type of fan who allows yourself to laugh at your teams foibles, then this is for you:
- For your listening pleasure:
- What do Kyler Gordon and Kevin Korchinski have in common? They were the first picks of their respective franchise’s rookie general manager’s first draft class. Over at BN Blackhawks, Tab writes about how a significant part of Kyle Davidson’s legacy will be tied to Korchinski. Pretty relatable stuff as we navigate the early goings of the Ryan Poles era.
- The Tigers should use the logo above more often. It’s fun!
- Laugh all you want, but rule No. 2 of the Trader Lu Handbook is that you can’t get what you don’t ask for in trade talks: