Floyd, Smith Trending Toward Playing Opener

September 03, 2018 - 12:24 pm
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(670 The Score) Game week began for the Bears with work on Labor Day at Halas Hall, and while the excitement for new pass rusher Khalil Mack remained strong at team headquarters, there was also good news on two other key defenders.

Third-year outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who will line up across from Mack, is practicing with a club on his fractured right hand and is trending toward playing the Bears' regular-season opener against the Packers on Sunday night. Meanwhile, rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith continues to stack practices together after being hampered by hamstring tightness three weeks ago.

"There hasn't been a setback," Nagy said of Smith. "He's doing well."

Nagy had expected that Floyd would be in line to play against the Packers despite suffering the fracture in his right hand during the Bears' third preseason game on Aug. 18. Floyd was working through his assignments during a light practice Monday. The key next will be getting comfortable playing with the protective club, specifically with hand movements in his rushes.

As for Smith, the progress in practice is promising after a challenging few weeks with the Bears. Smith missed the entirety of training camp while dealing with a rookie contract impasse. He officially signed on Aug. 14 after missing 29 days of work, then experienced the hamstring tightness a week later. 

Smith didn't play in any of the Bears' five preseason games, though he did establish a base with work during the offseason program. Third-year player Nick Kwiatkoski is expected to start alongside Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker. The Bears are still defining what role Smith will play in the opener and beyond that.

"Whether it's him playing all the game or playing in packages, our coaches will balance that out," Nagy said. "They'll know where he fits in the scheme and what he does best. It will probably be a game-by-game thing to where he gets fully up to speed. Who knows? It could be the entire game, it could be 10 plays. I don't have that answer. But we'll find out and go from there."

The Bears haven't officially named a starter at left guard, though Nagy strongly suggested it will be veteran Eric Kush starting over rookie second-round pick James Daniels. 

The day began with Nagy speaking to the Bears' 53-man roster and practice squad after a weekend of cuts and transactions to remind how fortunate they all are being in this position.

"Hey, you're a select group here,'" Nagy told the team. "I think it's 1,696 players in the league right now that made a team, 53 per 32 (teams).

"We want them to understand that, and that they earned it. Now it's time to move on. That's what they understand."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.