With one lesson behind him, Roquan Smith embraces another with the Bears’ defense
LAKE FOREST – It was the stuff of dreams for any one who puts on the pads over the past two weeks for Roquan Smith. But there was one nightmare that garnered a lot of attention.
Roquan Smith’s car break-in down in Athens, Georgia dominated the headlines the week before he was set to report to the Bears’ rookie mini-camp in Lake Forest. A number of prominent item were stolen – including his team-issued iPad – all because he reportedly left the door open by accident.
All is well that ends well, considering that Smith got most of his stuff back, a suspect was arrested, and the rookie linebacker reported to Halas Hall this weekend as expected. When he got there, his first statement was about the theft, in hopes to make it a lesson for his past.
“Everything happens for a reason, I learn from it,” said Smith.
His education for the weekend, of course, was far from done. Once he was done dealing with fallout of the theft of his items, the Bears’ first round draft pick had to get familiar with a defense he’ll more than likely lead in a couple of months.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he got a first hand lesson from Vic Fangio and the other defensive coaches on what’s ahead for the coming year. This was, in essence, was a classroom on the field, since the entire defensive unit won’t be at Halas Hall to this week for OTA’s then the veteran mandatory mini-camp in June.
“I’m just taking it all in. A lot of it is conceptual, so I’ve seen some of it in my past defense,” said Smith. “So just seeing it and then just being out with the guys, I’m pretty much just enjoying it and soaking it all up.”
Smith, the reigning Butkus Award winner who will slide into the starting middle linebacker spot in the fall next to Nick Kwiatkoski, will have a lot to retain as he steps in as a rookie. His ability to make impact plays across the line of scrimmage figures to be an upgrade from the recent past, including Jerrell Freeman, who only played in 13 games after signing as a free agent before the 2016 season.
It might seem cliche, but Smith knows these times are important to get as much of the scheme down as he can. As the 8th overall pick, results will be expected quickly and without haste.
“I’m always out trying to seek knowledge, so learning things with the defense, learning special checks, it’s always good,” said Smith. “Just knowing how to take advantage of an offense.”
With the knowledge of how to run this defense right from the start.