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Smith plans to play Sunday versus Raiders


Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith practiced in full Wednesday and plans to play in Sunday's game versus the Raiders in London.

The eighth pick in the 2018 draft was a surprise late scratch last Sunday when the Bears hosted the Vikings due to an undisclosed personal issue. Smith ultimately watched his team's 16-6 win from the sideline in street clothes.

Both Smith and the Bears have declined to elaborate on the personal issue, but the second-year pro told reporters Wednesday that it is now behind him and he is eager to return to game action Sunday in London.

"I will play this week," Smith said. "I'm good. It was personal. It's behind me. I'm just looking forward to getting better today out at practice and going back to work with my guys."

Smith expressed gratitude for the support he's received throughout Halas Hall.

"It's been big-time from the guys upstairs and down here in the locker room as well," he said. "It's definitely been felt, and I appreciate all the true support."

With the culture and family atmosphere that coach Matt Nagy has helped create with the Bears, it's no surprise that Smith has received so much support.

"He's a brother," said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. "He's a family member. This is personal. Everybody has everybody's back here from the top down."

Smith rejoins a defense that dominated the Vikings last Sunday at Soldier Field. The unit didn't allow any points for the game's first 57 minutes, generated six sacks and two takeaways and held NFL leading rusher Dalvin Cook to just 35 yards on 14 carries. 

Smith's replacement, Nick Kwiatkoski, led the Bears with nine tackles and also had a strip/sack of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Several other reserves contributed to the effort, including linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Nick Williams and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. 

"We kind of expect that, knowing the type of guys that we have, the brotherhood we've built here," Smith said. "So it didn't surprise me one bit. I expected that, to be honest.

"When one brother is down, others just step up and do their jobs. That was huge. I've got a lot of respect for those guys. I'm excited to have those guys as my teammates."

Smith made an immediate impact when he joined the Bears last season. Appearing in all 16 games with 15 starts, he recorded 122 tackles, two shy of Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher's team rookie record. Smith also registered five sacks, eight tackles-for-loss, one interception and five pass breakups.

After a full offseason with the team, the Georgia product picked up this year where he left off in 2018, compiling 24 tackles and one tackle-for-loss in the Bears' first three games. Smith is eager to add to those totals Sunday in London following his one-week hiatus. 

"I'm excited to be over there with my guys and get back on the field," Smith said. "It's just ball at the end of the day, and it's just getting back out there with my brothers. I'm looking forward to it, and it will be another great opportunity for us, to travel overseas."