The Chicago Bears returned to practice Wednesday at Halas Hall to prepare for Saturday’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.
Here are three things we learned afterward from players.
1. The Bears removed linebacker Roquan Smith from the physically unable to perform list.
A day after Smith requested a trade from the Bears because of stalled contract negotiations, the team announced it took him off the PUP list, where he had resided since the first day of training camp.
His placement on the list meant he wouldn’t be fined for not participating in practices as he waits for a new contract from the Bears. Smith has staged a “hold-in,” which allows him to attend meetings and train at Halas Hall while not practicing. He has been at most practices but was not spotted Wednesday.
It’s unclear whether the Bears removed him in case of a trade or so they could fine him for sitting out after he released a bold statement to NFL Network on Tuesday saying the Bears didn’t value him and “refused to negotiate in good faith.”
Smith’s dispute with Bears general manager Ryan Poles over a potential extension remained a topic of conversation Wednesday.
Teammates Robert Quinn and Darnell Mooney said players would love to have Smith remain in the building. But they also expressed an understanding of why Smith applied pressure to the Bears with the statement.
“You see that all the time with players trying to put the heat on the organization just trying to get a deal done,” Mooney said. “It’s nothing that I can do or anything, so I’m just looking from far away.”
Quinn recalled watching defensive tackle Aaron Donald hold out when both were with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. After holding out for a second straight training camp a year later, Donald eventually received a six-year, $135 million deal.
Quinn said he understands if Smith “wants to get as much as possible” and said he respectfully thinks the linebacker deserves it.
“It’s an opportunity to take care of your family and all that good stuff, so you don’t want to sell yourself short,” Quinn said. “Because not a lot of people get to sign new contracts, and if you’re one of the best at your position, you want to make sure you sign a well-compensated contract.
“But I’m not GM. I’m not Roquan. I’m not the owner. I’ve got my two cents, and I’m sure no one cares about them anyway.”
2. Even Darnell Mooney acknowledged his catch at Family Fest on Tuesday was ‘crazy.’
Undrafted free-agent cornerback Jaylon Jones texted Mooney after Tuesday’s practice to say he didn’t know what he could have done differently to defend Mooney’s leaping, one-handed catch.
“I was like, ‘It was great defense, man. Just a crazy catch,’” Mooney said.
Mooney got behind Jones and in front of safety Eddie Jackson to grab the ball down the right sideline for a 20-plus-yard catch.
“It was just a fade. Justin (Fields) just put the ball up for me, so only I can make the play,” Mooney said. “I mean the guy was holding my arm, so I was like, ‘Oh, this is all I’ve got, so I’m just going to stick it up there.’ Looked the ball all the way through, squeezed and it was a good catch.”
It’s unclear how many opportunities Mooney will have to make big catches when he gets into preseason action Saturday.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus said starters will play against the Chiefs but hasn’t yet revealed how much. Mooney said he’s interested in playing to get back into the rhythm of a game and to begin to get a feel for how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy calls plays.
3. The injuries and absences continue to pile up.
Tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery were the newest players to sit out practice.
Eberflus didn’t speak to reporters Wednesday but will speak Thursday. Kmet sat out the later portion of practice Tuesday at Soldier Field before working out to the side Wednesday, while Montgomery’s absence was new.
They were two of 21 players who were either missing or working out to the side. The others were wide receivers N’Keal Harry, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., David Moore and Dante Pettis; cornerbacks Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr., Tavon Young, Duke Shelley and Greg Stroman Jr.; safety Dane Cruikshank; tight ends Ryan Griffin and James O’Shaughnessy; defensive linemen Angelo Blackson and Mario Edwards Jr.; linebacker Noah Dawkins; and offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Julien Davenport.