BOURBONNAIS -- Coach Matt Nagy is understandably tired of answering questions about the continued absence of first-round draft pick Roquan Smith, maybe because both sides have carried the disagreement to a ridiculous level — especially Smith’s side.
They’re stalemated over hypothetical situations that have little chance of occurring, specifically, suspensions for on-field actions such as a fight. The Bears have already capitulated by agreeing to not go after any guaranteed money that might be lost by Smith for violating the new rule that prohibits leading with the crown of the helmet.
Since the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, Joey Bosa’s 31-day holdout two years ago is the only one longer than Smith’s. The Bears’ inside linebacker is the only drafted player who remains unsigned. All the Bears’ other rookies reported to camp on July 16.
It’s almost as if Smith’s representatives at Creative Artist Agency – Todd France, Brian Ayrault and Ben Renzin – are using him to build a reputation as tough negotiators for future clients. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of a 21-year-old kid who, if he doesn’t feel used at this point, probably should.
“There’s no news,” Nagy said after Tuesday’s practice. “As we’ve all said from the beginning, there is a process. For me as a head coach, I just need to worry about who’s here and who the players are. And that’s really, truly where I’m at. And so, if there’s five or six linebackers on this team, if there’s five or six DBs on this team, however many quarterbacks, I’m at a point right now where I just want to focus on who’s here and that’s all … control what we can control.
“Those are the guys that we have, and it’s really not that hard. You can try to spin it in a million different ways, but it’s pretty simple. If you’re here, that’s where we’re at. If you’re not, you go through the process and eventually get it figured out.”
Though it’s still a month until the start of the regular season, it would appear that Smith is rapidly approaching the point at which his effectiveness on Sept. 9 has to be questioned. Nagy says it’s not a problem yet, but at what point does it become one?
“I have no idea,” Nagy said. “I don’t know if it will or not. Again, with where we’re at right now, this is where we’re at. So it’s Week 2 of the preseason. There’s a ways to go yet.”
But everyone else on the defense has been working as a unit for almost three weeks. So Smith will not just show up and immediately fit seamlessly into the scheme, next to fellow ILB Danny Trevathan, where third-year veteran Nick Kwiatkoski, a 13-game starter, has taken every snap with the first team.
“Here’s a guy that’s started, has had a good career, and he comes out here and works hard each and every day,” Nagy said of Kwiatkoski. “He doesn’t say much. He just plays hard. He does everything that’s asked of him, so I know (defensive coordinator) Vic (Fangio) is happy to have him. We’re all happy to have him, and he just plays ball. That’s all we can really ask for from him.”
It doesn't seem like much to ask.