Roquan Smith: ‘I will play this week’

The Bears linebacker doesn’t shed any light on his last-minute absence against the Vikings last week but said the episode is behind him. ‘‘I’m fine,’’ he said.

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Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith (58, tackling Packers running back Jamaal Williams in the Bears’ opener on Sept. 5) said he expects to play against the Raiders in London and is looking forward to making the overseas trip.

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It remains to be seen who’s calling the shots in the Roquan Smith episode. But if it’s Smith, he’ll play Sunday against the Raiders in London. 

“I will play this week,” Smith said Wednesday in his first comments since missing the Bears’ 16-6 victory against the Vikings at Soldier Field as a last-minute scratch for personal reasons. 

Coach Matt Nagy, speaking earlier Wednesday at Halas Hall, wouldn’t go that far when asked about Smith’s availability for the game. 

“He’s gonna be full-go for practice; that’s definitely a good thing,” Nagy said. “We are happy that he will be full-go [Wednesday]. It’s gonna be more of a day-to-day thing for us with him.” 

They’ll probably sort it all out by the time the Bears leave for London after practicing Thursday night. But the fact that Smith practiced Wednesday and also met with reporters seemed like a sign of progress. 

Smith was businesslike and composed in his brief interview with reporters in front of his locker — an interview he was doing, he acknowledged, to remain in compliance with NFL media policy. The second-year linebacker refused to divulge any information regarding the issue that kept him out of the Vikings game. But he repeatedly indicated the episode was over and there would be no lingering effects, mentally or physically — whatever the situation was about. 

“I’m good,” Smith said. “It was personal. It’s behind me. Just looking forward to getting better today out at practice and going back to work with my guys. I’m past the situation now. Just addressing it because I have to.” 

The Bears continued to put a tight lid on the reason behind Smith’s absence. An ESPN report Monday said Smith “had not been acting like himself around the team facilities for the past week or so.” But the Bears have so resolutely declined to comment on any aspect of Smith’s absence that neither Nagy nor Smith was asked to respond to that report. 

Nagy, who has been as forthright with the media as any head coach in the NFL in his two seasons with the Bears, appeared close to reaching a breaking point when asked a fourth question about Smith on Wednesday. 

“The whole thing with Roquan — I’ll say this, and I said it to you guys [Monday],” Nagy said politely but firmly. “As far as understanding where you all are coming from, I totally get that. But, hopefully, you guys can respect me and respect us and where we’re at and how we’re handling this thing.

“There’s some privacy to this, and that’s all we’re asking. That’s why I’m giving you the answers that you’re getting. It’s nothing personal toward you guys, but it is a personal issue, and we’re gonna leave it at that.” 

Asked if legal trouble precipitated his absence, Smith said, “It’s personal. . . . I’m fine, as you see here. So it’s over with, and it’s behind me.” 

Smith said he appreciated the support he has received from the organization — on the field and off. 

“It’s been big-time [support] from the guys upstairs and in the locker room, as well,” Smith said. “It’s definitely been felt, and I appreciate all the true support.” 

The Bears’ locker room has appeared to be unaffected by the situation, with some saying they are just as much in the dark as everyone outside of Halas Hall is. Cornerback Prince Amukamara made a point to observe Smith’s media interview to get an update. And he appreciated the apparently good news. 

“It’s amazing,” Amukamara said. “He’s always been at practice and he’s always been in meetings, so it’s not a case of coming here after being away for a while. Him saying he’s going to play, when I overheard him saying that, I was excited. It’s the first time I heard that. I’m glad he’s going to be back and playing.” 

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