Roquan Smith questionable for Sunday
The Bears All-Pro linebacker has not practiced this week with an elbow injury. Cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) is out. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) and wide receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle) are questionable.
All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith is questionable for the Bears’ wild-card playoff game against the Saints on Sunday with an elbow injury he suffered against the Packers last week.
Smith, who is second in the NFL with 98 solo tackles, sixth with 139 total tackles and second with 18 tackles-for-loss, has not practiced all week. Coach Matt Nagy was mum when asked for clarification on Smith’s status, but Smith is not expected to play Sunday — a significant blow to the Bears’ upset chances if he doesn’t.
“He’s not just playing like a good player or a great player … there’s complete domination in the way he’s playing,” Nagy said of Smith. “He’s playing on another level. So when you lose that, that’s part of football. Whoever [is] the next guy up has to step up and do their thing — and it’s our job as coaches to know that and work to that player’s strengths.”
The Bears have worked through injuries throughout the season, as all NFL teams do. But their health going into Sunday game against the heavily favored and second-seeded Saints is a significant concern. Slot cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) is out. Starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), who has missed the last three games, is questionable and was limited Friday. And wide receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle) is questionable and has not practiced all week.
Linebacker Josh Woods, Smith’s back-up, also is questionable with glute and toe injuries. If Smith and Woods can’t play, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, who has played 22 snaps on defense this season and 48 in his three-year NFL career, likely would play against the Saints.
The Saints will be short-handed as well. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who is tied for second in the NFL with 13 1/2 sacks, is out with a neck injury. The Saints also will be without starting guard Nick Easton (concussion).
Rookie cornerback Kindle Vildor has started the last three games for Johnson and figures to fill that role Sunday. Second-year cornerback Duke Shelley has been playing for Skrine.