The Chicago Bears got off to a rough start against the Dallas Cowboys Thursday night. The Bears defense started the game off by giving up a 17-play touchdown drive to Dak Prescott and company, and when the Bears’ defense took the field on their second drive, they did so without one of their key starters: linebacker Roquan Smith.
The Bears are already short at the linebacker position after losing Danny Trevathan to an elbow injury on November 10th. Losing Smith would force the team to move forward without their top two linebackers. Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Lewis are the next men up, and neither was named a starter at the beginning of the season. They will be crucial players for this defense down the stretch, particularly because it looks like Smith will miss time.
Smith left the game after the team’s first defensive series, and there was no initial word as to what happened to him, other than he disappeared into the injury tent before heading to the Bears locker room.
It was announced early in the second quarter that Smith was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a pectoral injury.
Bears Defense Now Riddled With Injuries
With the recent loss of Smith, on top of the loss of Trevathan, the Bears linebacking corps is sparse. The team has been without starting defensive end Akiem Hicks since Week 5, and they have missed his presence immensely, especially in the run game. Star cornerback Prince Amukamara also missed the game against the Cowboys with a hamstring injury.
Fortunately for Chicago, Hicks joined the team in practice for the first time in months this week, and if all goes well with his recovery, he could play Week 15, when the Bears travel to Green Bay to face the Packers.
How long Smith will be out remains to be seen, but his absence, in addition to the numerous others the Bears defense has dealt with this season, will continue to provide a major challenge for both defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and head coach Matt Nagy. Nagy has not given an official diagnosis yet, but both after the game and again Friday, Nagy told the media Smith’s pectoral injury “doesn’t look good.”
Smith started the season off a bit slowly, but he has come on recently. He had two sacks for the first time in his career last week against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving to go with a team-high 15 tackles.
NFL medical analyst, Dr. David Chao–aka the Pro Football Doc–tweeted Friday after watching film of the injury that it looked as tough Smith stayed in the game initially after getting injured, and that Smith will likely need season-ending surgery. One of Smith’s teammates confirmed that he initially tried to play through it:
Smith was the Bears’ number one draft pick in 2018. He was their leading tackler last year as a rookie.