Amid a run of bad news on the injury front, the Bears are hopeful that one of their best players will return in time to face the Cardinals on Sunday.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who is stacking another great season on his impressive résumé, was back at practice Friday and is listed as questionable.
This is a case in which the questionable designation is a sign of progress because it looked highly unlikely the Bears would have Smith after he missed practice all week. He hurt his hamstring after 18 plays against the Lions on Thanksgiving, and that tends to be a multiweek injury.
Coach Matt Nagy avoided saying anything definitive about Smith’s status other than he’ll be a game-time decision, but he seemed optimistic.
“I think he’s getting close,” Nagy said. “If [he’s healthy], we’re rolling. And I know Roquan wants to.”
Smith is vying for his first Pro Bowl selection and possibly All-Pro consideration.
He’s fourth in the NFL in tackles (113) and has three sacks and a pick-six. Pro Football Reference charted him having only four missed tackles in 685 snaps. He also has played on nearly one-fifth of the Bears’ special-teams plays.
The only other positive on the Bears’ final injury report was tight end Cole Kmet recovering enough from his groin injury to be full-go at practice Friday and get a green light for the game.
Aside from that, the Bears figure to go without several key players.
They ruled out defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot, ribs), defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. (ribs) and running back Damien Williams (calf).
There’s also very little chance of seeing wide receiver Allen Robinson, who was listed as doubtful.
Robinson has been out since suffering a hamstring injury on his best play of the season, a 39-yard catch against the Steelers to set up the Bears’ go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes. He had four catches for 68 yards that night, but instead of being a turning point, that game marked a total derailment of an already frustrating season.
An unrestricted free agent after the season, Robinson has 30 catches for 339 yards and a touchdown. It likely will be his worst statistical season since his rookie year.
Without Robinson and Goodwin, the Bears would rely on Darnell Mooney as their No. 1 receiver, followed by Damiere Byrd (nine catches), returner Jakeem Grant (five catches) and likely practice-squad call-up Isaiah Coulter.
For the Cardinals, top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is questionable.
He has missed three games with a hamstring injury and was held out of practice Friday.