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Bears hopeful Roquan Smith will make his debut Saturday vs. Chiefs

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith takes part in drills during a joint NFL football training camp session Wednesday. « David Zalubowski, AP photo

Rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith likely will make his pro debut Saturday, when the Bears host the Chiefs at Soldier Field in their fourth preseason game.

“We’re going to continue to keep him growing,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “In a perfect world, yes. I don’t want to make any promises, but we feel like last week was just a little too fast.”

Smith ended his 29-day contract standoff with the Bears in time to practice Aug. 14 and join the team on its flight to Denver. He participated in two joint practices last week — one was padded — against the Broncos. Smith had to call the defensive plays at times during the practices.

He then wore street clothes Saturday night and watched the game from the sideline.


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“A couple of days and then to try to get him in there, I don’t think that was fair to him or fair to the other players,” Nagy said. “I think he needs to get his juices going a little bit.

“We’re hoping that [Saturday] is a great opportunity to get in there and move around. You still have to have that balance of how much, if it happens. And we hope it does.”

The Bears envision Smith, the No.  8 overall pick, as the eventual quarterback of the defense. It’s unlikely he’d play in the team’s fifth preseason game, which is likely reserved for players at the edge of the 53-man roster trying to earn jobs.