The Chicago Bears returned to practice Wednesday at Halas Hall to prepare for Saturday’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.
Here are three things we learned after the players.
A day after Smith requested a trade from the Bears due to deadlocked contract negotiations, the team announced it had removed him from the PUP list, where he had resided since the first day of training camp.
His roster placement, which the Bears said was injury-related, meant he wouldn’t be fined for skipping practices while awaiting a new Bears contract. Smith has arranged a “hold,” which allows him to attend meetings and train at Halas Hall while he’s not practicing. He has been to most practices to observe.
It’s unclear if the Bears cut him in the event of a trade or extension, because he actually recovered from an injury or so they could fine him for not participating after he issued a bold statement to NFL Network on Tuesday saying the Bears didn’t want him. they made. he valued it and “refused to negotiate in good faith.”
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement states that teams can fine players on their fifth-year options $40,000 a day if they miss practices and one week of regular-season pay for each preseason game they miss.
Smith’s dispute with Bears general manager Ryan Poles over a possible extension remained a topic of conversation Wednesday.
Teammates Robert Quinn and Darnell Mooney said the players would love for Smith to remain in the building. But they also expressed that they understood why Smith pressured the Bears with the statement.
“You see that all the time with players trying to put pressure on the organization just trying to get a deal done,” Mooney said. “It’s nothing I can do or anything, so I’m just watching from far away.”
Quinn recalled watching defensive tackle Aaron Donald resist when they were both with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. After waiting out a second straight training camp a year later, Donald finally received a six-year, $135 million contract.
Quinn said he understands if Smith “wants to get as much as possible” and said he respectfully believes the linebacker deserves it.
“It’s an opportunity to take care of your family and all that good stuff, so you don’t want to underestimate yourself,” Quinn said. “Because not many people get to sign new contracts, and if you’re one of the best in your position, you want to make sure you sign a well-paying contract.
“But I’m not GM. I’m not Rocky. I’m not the owner. I’ve got my two cents, and I’m sure no one cares anyway.”
Undrafted free-agent cornerback Jaylon Jones texted Mooney after Tuesday’s practice to say he didn’t know what he could have done differently to defend Mooney’s one-handed catch.
“I was like, ‘That was a great defense, man. Just a crazy catch,’” Mooney said.
Mooney moved behind Jones and in front of safety Eddie Jackson to grab the ball down the right sideline for a 20-plus yard catch.
“It was just a fade. Justin (Fields) just put the ball on me, so only I can make the play,” Mooney said. “I mean the guy was holding my arm, so I was like, ‘Oh, this is all I got, so I’m going to stick it in there.’ I watched the ball all the way, squeezed it and it was a good catch.”
It’s unclear how many opportunities Mooney will have to make big catches when he goes into preseason action on Saturday.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the starters will play the Chiefs, but hasn’t revealed how much yet. Mooney said he’s interested in playing to get the rhythm of a game back and begin to get a feel for how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy calls plays.
Tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery were the newest players to sit out practice.
Eberflus did not speak to reporters on Wednesday, but will speak on Thursday. Kmet sat out the latter part of Tuesday’s practice at Soldier Field before working on the sidelines Wednesday, while Montgomery’s absence was new.
They were two of the 21 players missing or working alongside. The others were wide receivers N’Keal Harry, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., David Moore and Dante Pettis; cornerbacks Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr., Tavon Young, Duke Shelley and Greg Stroman Jr.; security Dane Cruikshank; tight ends Ryan Griffin and James O’Shaughnessy; defensive linemen Angelo Blackson and Mario Edwards Jr.; linebacker Noah Dawkins; and offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Julien Davenport.