Roquan Smith is healthy. Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus expects healthy players to practice. Smith did not practice Thursday at Halas Hall.
Whether the Bears will now discipline their star linebacker remains a question.
After Smith missed his 13th practice in training camp amid stalled contract negotiationsEberflus said the Bears’ front office would resolve any possible disciplinary action “when the time comes.”
The Bears removed Smith from physically unable to perform list Wednesday to indicate that you are healthy enough to practice. He was on the roster the first two weeks of training camp as he and Bears general manager Ryan Poles discussed the potential of a new contract. But Smith issued a public statement Tuesday requesting a trade because he said the team had “refused to negotiate in good faith,” and his retirement from PUP followed Wednesday.
On Thursday, Smith walked onto the field in his jersey and shorts midway through practice and watched from the sidelines.
“We expect all of our healthy players to practice, and that was his decision,” Eberflus said. “Like I said, you have to ask him (why). I haven’t talked to him about it.”
The Bears didn’t make Smith available to reporters because he didn’t practice.
Eberflus did not provide information on where things stand between the Bears and Smith. Eberflus said he didn’t know if Smith would continue to sit out of practice until he gets a new contract.
The Bears coach would not comment on whether there is any benefit to Smith watching practices on the bench, and he would not provide details of what discipline, including fines, is available to the Bears.
However, Eberflus provided an answer on how to address the discord between Smith and the team.
“To bridge any gap, you’re going to need communication,” Eberflus said. “That is the first step. In any relationship you need communication so I would just say that. … That’s going to be with Ryan and Roquan to deal with.”
Eberflus said he is approaching the situation “being respectful of everyone in the building.”
Do I know for sure what Roquan is going through? I don’t know,” Eberflus said. “I’m not in his chair. I don’t know that. You never put yourself in another man’s shoes. His perspective may be somewhat different. That’s where he is he. I’m going to be respectful of that.”
Smith was one of a long string of players sitting out Thursday, the final practice before Saturday’s preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.
Eberflus provided positive updates on running back David Montgomery, tight end Cole Kmet and cornerback Kyler Gordon. He said Montgomery and Kmet would be fine, though he doesn’t expect either to play Saturday. Gordon is close to a comeback after missing a handful of practices.
“When players lose time on the grass, the actual game, the work on fundamentals and techniques, that hurts,” Eberflus said. “That harms our soccer team and harms its development. So we try to get those guys back as soon as possible. I tell the players: ‘Your body will tell you when you’re ready. When you’re ready to go, let’s come back and go.’”
Eberflus confirmed that wide receiver N’Keal Harry had high-wire surgery on his ankle, but declined to set a timetable for his return. ESPN reported a recovery time of eight weeks. Wide receivers Byron Pringle (quadruple), Velus Jones Jr. (undisclosed) and David Moore (lower leg) remained out, but Dante Pettis returned.