Saying that inside linebacker Roquan Smith participated in a “practice-and-a-half” until this week, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio knows to temper his expectations for the No. 8 overall pick on Sunday.
One factor that concerns him: Smith, who missed the first 29 days of the Bears’ preseason because of a contract standoff, hasn’t tackled anyone to the ground since he played for Georgia in the national title game.
“At some point, you just have to put him in there,” Fangio said. “You can’t just say, ‘He hasn’t tackled anybody since last January.’ He’s gonna have to do it at some point.”
Fangio said he hasn’t been able to measure Smith’s progress because he hasn’t practiced much — though he was a full participant Thursday for a second consecutive day. But he sees traits that will help him play catch-up.
“He’s a good natural football player,” Fangio said. “I think he understands the game. He understands what we’re trying to do. He has good reactions, good instincts. And anytime you have that, that helps the process.”
Smith — who could sit behind Nick Kwiatkoski at first — won’t be on a specific play count.
“We’ve just gotta watch him,” Fangio said. “It’s important that they communicate how they feel. I’m confident Roquan will do that.”
Smith is getting better, coach Matt Nagy said.
“It’s how much we want to do with him and what works,” Nagy said. “And we’re going to listen to his body and to him to tell us where he’s at. But so far, so good.”
The Bears will not have permanent captains this year, Nagy said. Instead, they’ll select three players — one on offense, defense and special teams — via a combination of player votes and coaching decisions before each game.
The captains for Sunday: quarterback Mitch Trubisky, defensive end Akiem Hicks and special-teamer Benny Cunningham.
Rotating captains, something the Chiefs did when Nagy coached there, has its advantages.
“It gives guys opportunities to have ownership, accountability and be a leader for a week,” Nagy said. “And then as far as if you end up making it to the playoffs, if you’re fortunate enough to do that, then we go back to the permanent for the playoffs.”
The Bears will not wear captaincy patches.
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Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who practiced in full for a second consecutive day after missing all but the first day of camp with a hamstring injury, figures to be a candidate to be inactive Sunday. But Nagy said the Bears are “anxious to get him out there and get him going a bit.”
u The Bears’ injury report remained unchanged. Defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson didn’t participate while he recovers from a broken forearm and balky back, and tight end Daniel Brown, who hurt his right shoulder in the preseason finale, was limited.