Roquan Smith absent as end of Bears camp in Bourbonnais nears
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BOURBONNAIS — Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith might never lay eyes on Olivet Nazarene University this year. And if he does, it won’t be for a serious practice.
The Bears held their last full practice in Bourbonnais on Monday. All that’s left are two light, closed-to-the-public practices Tuesday and Sunday and a late-night showcase highlighted by a fireworks show Saturday at Ward Stadium on campus.
The schedule is working against an easy transition if and when the impasse over Smith’s contract ends. The Bears will practice against the Broncos on Aug. 15-16 before the teams meet in a preseason game Aug. 18 in Denver. That hostile environment wouldn’t be an ideal time to introduce Smith to his new teammates or begin teaching him the defensive scheme. In the standard camp environment, Smith could have benefitted from not only practices but also meetings and team bonding activities.
He’ll miss at least two preseason games — the Hall of Fame Game last week and the game Thursday in Cincinnati.
A contract dispute has kept the former Georgia star away from Bears camp for three full weeks dating to July 16, when rookies reported to Bourbonnais. Smith’s representatives and the Bears disagree about which on-the-field circumstances would allow the team to pursue voiding the guarantees in his rookie deal. The No. 8 overall pick remains the only drafted rookie yet to report to his team.
For the second time in three days, coach Matt Nagy gave a curt response to questions about Smith’s standoff, saying after practice Monday that there is “no news on that.”
Meanwhile, Smith’s agents — Todd France, Brian Ayrault and Ben Renzin — are participating in another high-profile staredown that could reach its apex.
The collective-bargaining agreement requires that Rams defensive end Aaron Donald, a Creative Artists Agency client who’s holding out for a new contract, report to training camp by Tuesday or risk losing a year of credit toward free agency. He also could be fined if he doesn’t play in the exhibition game Thursday.