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Quick Hits: Eberflus details plan for preseason opener

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus

It will vary by individual, but Bears starters generally are expected to play 15-20 snaps in Saturday's preseason opener against the Chiefs at Soldier Field.

"We certainly want to see certain guys play together, certain units play together for a certain amount of time," said coach Matt Eberflus. "And there will also be players that won't play in the game.

"With the starters, they're probably going to go 15-20 plays … and that's not every starter. Some guys are going 10-15, some guys are going 15-20. But that changes by guy. It's really individual based on the guy, where he is and what his maturation is in terms of his play."

While Saturday's preseason opener will provide Eberflus his first chance to manage a game as a head coach, the most important aspect of the contest will be evaluation.

"Really the big piece to this is the personnel," Eberflus said. "The personnel piece to this is evaluating every person on our roster, from the first man to the last and how they fit in with the Chicago Bears. That's what our big goal is to do that."

Sitting out: Roquan Smith passed his physical and was removed from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list Wednesday, but the veteran linebacker did not return to practice Thursday.

"He was cleared by our medical staff as healthy," Eberflus said. "He did not practice. The reason why for that is, you'll have to ask him. We expect all of our healthy players to practice, and that was his decision."

Smith and the Bears remain in a contract impasse. On Tuesday, Smith released a statement requesting a trade. Entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract, he wrote that he wants to be dealt in part because he feels the Bears don't value him and haven't negotiated in good faith.

Hours later, general manager Ryan Poles addressed the situation in an impromptu press conference following the Bears' Family Fest practice at Soldier Field. Poles said that his feelings about Smith as a player and a person haven't changed. The Bears GM also indicated that "my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team" and "we're doing everything we can to get this done."

Injury update: Eberflus confirmed that receiver N'Keal Harry underwent ankle surgery Thursday but did not provide a timetable for his return. The Bears coach added that receiver David Moore "will be out for a bit also" with a lower leg injury he sustained in Tuesday's Family Fest practice.

Running back David Montgomery and tight end Cole Kmet, both of whom missed Thursday's practice with undisclosed injuries, remain day-to-day but likely won't play Saturday.

Eberflus said both players are expected to be fine, adding that Montgomery should be back "pretty fast."

Bears top draft pick Kyler Gordon, a second-round cornerback from Washington, also remained out of practice Thursday.

"When players miss time on the grass, the actual playing of the game, working on the fundamentals and techniques, that hurts," Eberflus said. "That hurts our football team and hurts their development.

"We just try to get those guys back as soon as possible, and I tell the players: 'Your body will tell you when you're ready. When you're ready to go, let's get back out there and let's go.' They're doing everything they can to get back."

Telescope view: Eberflus is excited about coaching his first game for one of the NFL's founding franchises, albeit a preseason contest. But he intends to focus solely on the task at hand.

"The first thing to come to mind right there is that you don't look at the past," Eberflus said. "You've got to focus on the future and what's ahead of you right now. The way we look at it is you have to have a telescope view as the head coach: where we're going to get to. And then you have to have a microscopic view of what we're doing day-to-day.

"I'm just focusing on having good game-day operation, working on the scheme, evaluating the personnel for the first game … That's the way you function best; you've got to be in the moment. You've got to be right here, right now."

A head coach for the first time in his career, Eberflus is confident that he's ready to make all the crucial in-game decisions he's responsible for.

"That's everything," he said. "Those decisions that we make in the last two minutes of the half, last two minutes of the game, going for it on fourth down, all of those situations that are my call a lot of times are really a big job to have."

Throughout the offseason, Eberflus has worked with director of research and analysis Harrison Freid to prepare for various game situations.

"We must have had 20 sessions talking about end of game, when to throw the challenge flag, when not to, all scenarios that deal with two-minute, end of half, end of game, all of those situations," Eberflus said.

"And we've had the officials in here. We've used those guys as resources, as educators in terms of the rules. The two-minute application, how they spot the ball, where should we be to get the ball back into play the fastest as possible.

"I feel very prepared for that and I'm excited to go through it for the first time with our staff."

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