Our Pledge To You

Bears

Back practicing, Bears’ Roquan Smith ‘optimistic’ he can play against Packers

Twenty days after he first felt tightness in his left hamstring, rookie linebacker Roquan Smith was back to being a full participant in Bears practice Wednesday. It seems unlikely he’ll start the season opener Sunday against the Packers, but Smith claimed not even to know how much he’ll play.

‘‘I have no clue,’’ he said.

Will he play at all?

‘‘I’m a little optimistic,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I’m pretty sure. I know coach [Matt] Nagy knows what’s best for me and when I’ll get out there.’’

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith takes part in drills during a joint NFL football training camp session at Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. | David Zalubowski, AP photo

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith takes part in drills during a joint NFL football training camp session at Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. | David Zalubowski, AP photo

The Bears figure to use him in a customized role.

Smith said his hamstring ‘‘definitely feels a lot better and looser’’ than it did in the Bears’ second joint practice last month with the Broncos, when he first felt a twinge of pain. Nagy revealed the injury dated to three days after Smith signed his contract following a monthlong standoff.

RELATED
Arrival of Khalil Mack brings even more expectations for Mitch Trubisky
Why it’s on Mitch Trubisky to change Bears’ rivalry with Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Nagy said it wasn’t unusual for Smith still to be dealing with the injury almost three weeks later.

‘‘He would have probably tried to get out there a little bit sooner if he could,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘But that’s our job. We get paid to make sure that we make these decisions. I did not want to put him in a position to where he comes out and plays in the Buffalo [preseason] game or the game before that, where he does something and now we don’t have him for this week. I just wanted to be real careful about that.’’

Even healthy, Smith has to make adjustments after missing virtually the entire preseason because of the contract standoff and hamstring
problem.

He said the Bears’ defensive scheme is similar enough to the one he played in at Georgia that he feels comfortable. Tackling for the first time since January might be another story.

‘‘I just think back to all the fundamentals,’’ Smith said. ‘‘You know, just wrap up when you tackle, not [bumping] guys or anything like that. Bring your arms, your hips and different things like that.’’