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Bears rookie Roquan Smith doesn’t play vs. Broncos

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith takes part in drills during a joint NFL football training camp session against the Denver Broncos on Wednesday. | David Zalubowski, AP photo

DENVER — Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith’s preseason debut will wait a week.

Smith, who ended his holdout Tuesday morning and participated in the Bears’ three practices this week, wore street clothes while his teammates faced the Broncos on Saturday night.

He has participated in one fully padded practice — on Wednesday — since his Georgia Bulldogs played in the national championship game. The Bears had a light practice Tuesday at Halas Hall and wore shells Thursday at the Broncos’ facility.

“It’s hard … when you come in when he did, to just throw him into the mix right away,” coach Matt Nagy said after Saturday’s 24-23 win. “Again, we didn’t feel that it was … it just wasn’t going to be right.”

Speaking for the first time since Smith’s 29-day holdout ended, general manager Ryan Pace told the Bears’ official pregame show on WBBM-AM that Smith has looked explosive.

“You see his speed and his athleticism immediately, and I think you saw it in these combined practices with the Broncos,” Pace said. “You watch him close the flat; you watch him move; you watch him change direction. But we’ve got to be smart as a staff as we acclimate him in, and that’s part of the plan.”

Smith figures to make his debut at home next Saturday against the Chiefs. The Bears’ fourth preseason game — the third for 30 NFL teams — is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season.

The organization and Smith’s representatives disagreed about whether the Bears could void his contract guarantees after suspensions resulting from on-field actions. Smith received protections his teammates don’t have — the Bears can only go after his contract guarantees if the NFL gives him a three-game suspension as the consequence of a single football play, such as violating the league’s new use-of-helmet rule or an illegal hit. If he’s defending himself or a teammate while on the field — such as after a play — the Bears can’t void his guarantees unless he receives a two-game suspension.


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Pace said on the show that “I didn’t want us to sit idle and have a stare-down contest” with Smith’s representatives.

“Would we have liked him to be here earlier? Sure,” Pace said. “But he’s here now, and we’re focused on getting him ready for the season — and, really, all our players.”

More flags

The baffling new use-of-helmet rule made itself known in the first quarter.

Cornerback Kyle Fuller was called for a personal foul when officials said he lowered his head while trying to tackle fullback Andy Janovich. Replays appeared to show Fuller leading with his shoulder.

Earlier, Broncos cornerback Isaac Yiadom was called for lowering his helmet to initiate contact on the play in which tight end Adam Shaheen injured his right ankle.

This and that

Defensive end Akiem Hicks, who practiced all week, did not play after experiencing knee soreness Saturday morning. He and cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) were the only two projected starters — besides Smith, eventually — to sit.

◆ Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running back Benny Cunningham and Fuller were captains.