Two days after a dominant performance in a preseason rout of the Seattle Seahawks, there was more good news for the Bears defense.
Star linebacker Roquan Smith practiced Saturday for the first time since the start of training camp, joining his teammates for a non-contact workout in the Walter Payton Center.
Entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, Smith had been seeking a long-term extension. He participated in the entire offseason program but opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The 2018 first-round pick from Georgia was removed from the PUP list Aug. 10 but hadn't practiced until Saturday.
On Aug. 9, Smith released a statement requesting a trade, indicating that he wanted to be dealt to another team in part because he felt the Bears didn't value him and weren't negotiating 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 hadn't changed. The Bears GM also revealed that "my intentions are to sign Roquan to this team" and "we're doing everything we can to get this done."
Smith has been named second-team All-Pro each of the past two seasons. In 2020, he finished second in the NFL with 96 solo tackles and tied for second with 18 tackles-for-loss, the most by a Bears player since Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher had 19 in 2002.
Last season, Smith recorded a career-high 163 tackles with 12 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks and one interception that he returned 53 yards for a touchdown. He has compiled at least 100 tackles in each of his four seasons, the first Bears player to accomplish that feat in any four-year span since Lance Briggs did so in six consecutive seasons from 2004-09.
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