Will Bears rookie Roquan Smith play vs. Packers? Time quickly running out
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Remember rookie linebacker Roquan Smith?
Smith, a hot topic through his holdout, his return and his subsequent hamstring injury, was lost in the tumult of Bears coach Matt Nagy’s decision to rest his starters in the preseason game Saturday against the Chiefs. But Smith comes back into focus with the final preseason game Thursday against the Bills and only 13 days before the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Packers.
Smith has missed most of the last three practices — he has participated only in warmups and individual drills — because of tightness in his left hamstring. So he has had only three full practices (two in pads) since ending a 29-day contract holdout Aug. 13.
Nagy acknowledged last week that Smith might play in the preseason finale, a game that generally features the bottom half of the roster.
‘‘We’ll monitor his health, and if we feel like it’s safe to get him reps [against the Bills] — which he obviously needs — then we’ll do that,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘If we think it’s not safe, then we’re not going to do it.’’
Considering how cautious Nagy has been with issues about player health, that diminishes the likelihood that Smith will play Thursday. That, in turn, diminishes the chances he will play in the regular-season opener against the Packers.
Time is running short. The Bears practice Monday and Tuesday at Halas Hall. If Smith isn’t cleared for practice Monday, the Bears might start looking at Week 2 — or beyond — as a more reasonable date for his debut.
While the last preseason game generally affects only the bottom of the roster, there are other things to watch this week:
• Defensive end Akiem Hicks hasn’t played or practiced since Aug. 18 because of a sore knee.
• Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is expected to practice with a club on the broken right hand he suffered against the Broncos.
• Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who participated in individual drills for the first time since suffering a pulled hamstring on the first day of camp July 20, is hoping to take the next step and play against the Bills.
• And the starting center/left guard combination bears watching after Eric Kush started at left guard against the Chiefs while his starting linemates sat. Rookie James Daniels played center in the first half and left guard in the second. It’ll be interesting to see if the door is open for Daniels to win a starting job.