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Bears’ Roquan Smith hurt during his ‘best year’

Bears coach Matt Nagy hopes inside linebacker Roquan Smith won’t need an injured-reserve stint. But even if he has to miss a game or two with a hamstring injury suffered Thursday, the Bears will suffer.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears
Roquan Smith hits Packers running back Aaron Jones as he runs for a touchdown last month.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Coach Matt Nagy hopes inside linebacker Roquan Smith won’t need a stint on injured reserve. But even if Smith has to miss a game or two with a hamstring injury, the Bears will suffer.

“I think everybody understands and knows how I feel about Roquan and the type of football player he is on Sunday, but I don’t know if people truly understand who he is as a leader of this team,” Nagy said Friday. “Not just the defense but the team in general.

“He’s a big part of this thing. His true professionalism, the respect that he has from his teammates, from his coaches, it’s rare. And he’s only been getting better every year, and this year is probably his best year.”

Smith played 18 snaps Thursday before getting hurt. Christian Jones took his place and played 26 snaps. Rookie Caleb Johnson played five.

Nagy was vague about Smith’s timetable to return. Safety Eddie Jackson hurt his hamstring Oct. 31 and didn’t return until Thursday. Wide receiver Allen Robinson hurt his Nov. 8 and is still out.

“The soft tissue, you never know,” Nagy said. “Everyone’s a little bit different.

‘‘It depends on the magnitude and the level of hamstrings. Everybody gets them, and they’re all probably a little bit different — on how many you’ve had in your career, how you respond to them, all that. He’ll be doing everything he can to get right.”

Vildor to ‘keep fighting’

Two of the players involved in the busted-coverage breakdown against the Ravens on Sunday never saw the field on defense against the Lions.

Cornerback Kindle Vildor, who did not cover Sammy Watkins on a 29-yard gain that set up the Ravens’ game-winning score, was limited to special teams. He was replaced by Artie Burns, who gave up a touchdown on a 39-yard, seven-step drop, dagger-and-go route in the first quarter.

“That’s hard, but he recovered and made some good plays,” Nagy said. “He backed it up. Kindle’s gonna continue to keep fighting. He has a great spirit. He understands that we want to keep coaching him, keep bringing him along and getting him going.’’

Marqui Christian, who replaced injured Duke Shelley at nickel cornerback for the end of the Ravens game, didn’t play on defense Thursday. Xavier Crawford took his place.

Wilkinson on COVID list

For the third time this season, the Bears put backup offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He is unvaccinated.

The Bears put him on the list on the morning of their Oct. 24 loss to the Buccaneers. Wilkinson came off it five days later, indicating he was a close contact of an infected person. He also was ruled a close contact when he was one of four players the Bears added to the reserve list Aug. 3.

Wilkinson started the Packers game, then lost his job to rookie -Larry Borom.