Bears want rookie Roquan Smith to chase a challenge that ‘never gets solved’
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The NFL made a stat correction Monday night, saying rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith shouldn’t have been credited for the tackle and forced fumble that led to Eddie Jackson’s 65-yard touchdown return Sunday against the Bills.
“I don’t care,” Smith said Tuesday, “because the end result was a touchdown.”
And because the play was the perfect example of why Smith — who tied for the team lead with 12 tackles even after the stat fix — has the Bears so excited. Smith sprinted from the middle of the field toward the left sideline and hit tight end Jason Croom from behind just as Jackson popped the ball out.
“Closing to the ball and finishing plays with his speed,” inside linebackers coach Glenn Pires said.
Smith still doesn’t do that enough for Pires to be content.
“I don’t think he’s had a complete best game yet,” Pires said. “I think the process is still going.
“He’s learning. He’s hard on himself, as I am. The flashes are OK, but the consistency, that’s the key.”
Pires sounds like Smith’s toughest critic, but that’s on purpose. He has set a high bar for the No. 8 overall pick, whom the Bears envision quarterbacking the defense for years.
“This team, to go where we want to go, it has to be that way,” Pires said. “Especially at the position he plays, being the leader of our defense.”
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Smith, who has two sacks, gives himself a “solid” score through his first eight games. He tries to fix mistakes from week to week.
“I just try to eliminate those and strive for perfection — even though that’s not possible,” Smith said. “Just getting better every day.”
When you know you’ll never reach perfection, the chase becomes the point.
“Every week is a new challenge, and that’s what he’s into right now, and that’s what he’s realizing,” Pires said.
“It never gets solved. Every team has new challenges. Every team has a new wrinkle or a new something we haven’t seen.’’