Roquan Smith

Matt Eberflus on Roquan Smith: ‘We expect our healthy players to practice’

Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus met with the media after practice Thursday and provided some insight into his expectations surrounding linebacker Roquan Smith and his current standing on the team.

Smith is in the midst of a hold-in in his effort to secure a lucrative multi-year contract from the Bears. Until now, Smith has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list. His placement on PUP has allowed for excused absences from practice while he and general manager Ryan Poles worked on contract details.

Things took a turn for the worse Tuesday when Smith publicly requested a trade. He wasn’t kind with his choice of words for the Bears’ front office, either. Poles counterattacked Wednesday by removing Smith from the PUP list. Now, the veteran linebacker is required to be on the grass with the rest of his teammates during practice regardless of his contract situation.

Eberflus said Thursday that that’s his expectation for Smith moving forward.

“He was cleared by our medical staff as healthy and he did not practice. The reason why for that is you have to ask him. We expect all of our healthy players to practice. And that was his decision. You’ll have to ask him.”

Eberflus is clearly frustrated over his star linebacker’s status but he was careful not to inject his opinion about how Smith should be handling his contract squabble.

“To me, it’s about being respectful to everyone in the building. Do I know what Roquan is going through? I don’t know. I’m not in his chair. Never put yourself in another man’s shoes. His perspective may be something different.”

In theory, the Chicago Bears can fine Roquan Smith for his willful failure to practice. A decision like that won’t help facilitate communication in contract negotiations, but at this point, Chicago may have no choice. Rules are rules, right? And with how badly Smith publicly trashed the front office, all loyalty from the organization may have been lost.

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