New Injury Sidelines Bears Starter Leading Up to Week 3

Roquan Smith

Getty Roquan Smith popped up on the Bears' injury report September 21.

The Chicago Bears added a new name to their injury report this week, and it’s a concerning one. The team was without captain and starting linebacker Roquan Smith during its September 21 practice.

While head coach Matt Eberflus wouldn’t discuss any details about injuries when he met with the media before practice, Smith was later listed on the team’s injury report with a hip issue. Veteran safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring), rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) and tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) also missed practice.

Smith leads the team in tackles through two games with 20, and he also has half a sack. He has played 100% of Chicago’s defensive snaps so far this season, and he has been the epitome of durability since getting drafted eighth overall out of Georgia in 2018.

Over his five-year career, Smith has missed just four games, all of which came in 2019 after he suffered a torn pectoral muscle toward the end of the regular season.

Smith Has Been Struggling to Start 2022

While Smith is tops on the team in tackles, he hasn’t had the greatest start this season. Through two games, the second-team All-Pro has had difficulty shedding blocks, and has looked slow at times, particularly in Chicago’s Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Eberflus said on September 19 that he thought Smith’s performance in the Packers game was “solid,” but the Bears coach also noted the team was working specifically with Smith and fellow linebacker Nicholas Morrow to help the duo improve in certain areas.

“We’re working with those linebackers right now, working downhill and playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage,” Eberflus added. “And that’s really twofold — that’s for both the linebackers. Because what that does, it helps our defense align, take off the double teams. We have to do a better job with that.”

Smith’s missing practice with a hip injury could be nothing — but it’s absolutely something to monitor moving forward.

When Will Rookie WR Velus Jones Make His NFL Debut?

Another concerning absence for the Bears heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Houston Texans is that of rookie wideout Jones, who has yet to make his regular season debut.

The rookie receiver and return specialist flashed in Chicago’s second preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, particularly on special teams. Jones displayed his speed and playmaking ability on a 48-yard punt return and a 31-yard kickoff return, but he hasn’t played since.

Jones was stretching with his teammates during Wednesday’s practice, but he didn’t do much else. “Same issue, yeah, same issue,” Eberflus said about Jones Week 2, via Gene Chamberlain of Sports Illustrated. “So, we’re just trying to work through it, and see where he is, and trying to be positive with it, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Eberflus is singing a similar tune this week, so there’s a good chance Jones doesn’t play against Houston. The 25-year-old rookie was supposed to be a new weapon for quarterback Justin Fields on offense while also being a potential difference-maker in the return game, but Bears fans will likely have to keep waiting before they see his NFL debut.

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