Poles confident he can rebuild relationship with Smith


Roquan Smith is back practicing with the Bears, but the door is firmly shut on any future contract extension talks until next offseason. Both Ryan Poles and Smith have made it clear, they’re giving their full attention to the regular season.

“We’ve shifted gears and it’s all ball now,” said Poles. “So it really doesn’t make sense to go back and go through all that.”

“I’m not focused on that if I'm being completely honest,” said Smith. “My focus is on making this year the best year I can and then go from there. I don’t want to look forward too much to the future or anything like that. I’m just focused on having the best year I can with my teammates and going out and playing the game I love. That’s what means the most to me.”

It may sound like typical lip service, but when Bears practice was still open to the public, Smith was flying around the field, and laying big “thuds” on the ball carriers. Teammates and coaches alike praised Smith’s engagement in team meetings and on the sidelines, even during Smith’s hold-in. .

“I never let anything get in the way of the bigger picture,” said Smith.

That didn’t go unnoticed.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for being able to change gears like that, and going out and just playing football and doing it the right way,” Poles said. “I’m proud of him for handling that way. He’s out there and we’re better because of that, so, I really don’t want to go back into the whole contract thing.”

The kind words are possibly a way to help rebuild bridges, and maybe surprising given how nasty things got publicly. Players request trades all the time, but rarely does one hear accusations that a GM is negotiating in bad faith, with a call to ownership to intervene and salvage the process. Yet, Poles understands why Smith was upset and still believes the two can eventually return to the negotiation table, amicably.

“It's human nature,” Poles said. “When things happen and two sides don't agree on something, it's gonna take a little time to do that. I got a lot of faith that that's going to happen, and I'm excited for it.

“He's a good player. That's never changed. And he's a good dude. I have faith that he's gonna have a good year and we'll work on our relationship and all that. It's not even a bad thing, either. We've all been there, right? You have disagreements and you have to come back together and be teammates. That's what I expect.”

Meanwhile, Smith believes getting back on the field and playing in Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ will pay dividends for him in the future.

“It’s definitely sweet,” said Smith about the new defense. “It allows you to play in space more and I feel like that’s one of my biggest attributes, playing in space, vision. Didn't get to do a lot of that in the past.”

Smith shut down any notion that playing in a new scheme without any preseason work will be a detriment as he goes about proving his worth not only to the Bears, but the rest of the league.

“I flourish in any defense. It don’t matter. Just line me up and tell me a play, and I’m there.”

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