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Smith getting up to speed at minicamp

Posted May 12, 2018

The Bears are confident that first-round draft pick Roquan Smith will pick up the defense quickly, which should enable the speedy rookie linebacker to play fast.

Matt Nagy knows all about Roquan's Smith speed and athleticism. What the Bears coach wants to see from the first-round draft pick during this weekend's rookie minicamp is leadership and command of the huddle.

"We know he's a good football player, but how does he take to this defense?" Nagy said. "He's a quick study, he's a quick learner. So just being able to see him play fast.

"At any position, you want to make sure guys understand it so they can play fast. If they don't understand it, they play a little slower and they can't shine. It's going to be, ‘How quick does that happen?' He's going to eventually 100-percent get it. It's just how quickly will he get there?"

Although Smith was selected with the eighth pick in the draft, he will have to earn his opportunities just like every other player on the roster.

"For all these guys that come in here, you've got to be able to come in here and show what you can do," Nagy said. "Just because you're the No. 8 pick in the draft doesn't mean you just walk into this thing. You've got to earn it. We've made that clear to everybody on this team."

Nagy has no doubt that Smith will embrace the challenge.

"He's going to be a great teammate," said the Bears coach. "He's going to ask questions and he's going to realize that it does need to be earned. I have no doubt in my mind that he'll show that support for his teammates and the guys will do the same in turn to him."

No rush: Second-round pick Anthony Miller, a receiver from Memphis, is participating only in individual drills in rookie minicamp as a precaution due to a foot injury that caused him to miss the Senior Bowl.

"We're not going to rush him into anything," Nagy said. "We want to make sure he's doing everything as far as individual drills, routes on air, and he can go in and go full speed right now. But right now it's big for us to get him going mentally and with his foot and everything, just kind of get back to working into 100 percent.

"When you get in on the turf, you want to be smart. We're in no rush to do anything. With any of these guys who have any type of situations we want to be cautious. There's no rush right now for anybody really."

Standing out: Undrafted free agent cornerback Kevin Toliver II made some nice plays on the ball in Friday's practice, recording an interception and two pass breakups.

The 6-2, 192-pounder played three seasons at LSU, improving last year but generally failing to live up to expectations after arriving in Baton Rouge as a five-star recruit from Jacksonville.

"Here's a kid that's very talented, and you can see he has good size," Nagy said. "For him, it's going to be a matter of understanding what we're looking for in him and knowing it's a great opportunity with us on this team. But again, you've got to earn it and you've got to come in and make plays. When you make plays like he did [Friday], it does nothing but help him."

Inside job: With third-year pro Cody Whitehair entrenched at center, rookie second-round pick James Daniels will begin his Bears career competing at guard.

"We've got Cody right now at a spot at center and you want to be careful moving guys around too much," Nagy said. "We have Cody at center and that's his spot. We want Cody to be able to really focus in and hone in on that.

"The benefit of having a guy like James Daniels, he's versatile, he can play different positions. So we'll let him come in here and play guard and see what he can do, learn from the other guys. He's a young kid now; he's only 20 years old. For him his arrow is up, but for us it just gives us an opportunity to let Cody grow at that position at center. As a staff, we also know we have quality guys now, depth-wise, at guard and at center, which is really good."