July 31, 2018 / 2:58 PM / 4 months ago

Bears general manager: Smith holdout 'a little bit new for all of us'

FILE PHOTO: Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Roquan Smith (Georgia) is selected as the number eight overall pick to the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Roquan Smith remains the only unsigned 2018 NFL Draft selection, and Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said the sides are “working through” the items holding the contract up.

“That’s obviously a big topic right now,” Pace told WMVP-AM 1000 Monday, via the Chicago Tribune, in his first comments on the situation since training camp opened. “And for us, these are important and critical reps that are going on right now. But to get into the nitty gritty details isn’t something we feel we should do publicly. That’s behind the scenes. We have a lot of respect for him obviously and a lot of respect for his agents. And it’s a matter of just working through that.”

Pace declined to elaborate on the details of Smith’s holdout. The linebacker, who was selected with the No. 8 overall pick from Georgia, has missed nine training camp practices. The Bears play in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, which allowed the team to begin camp early.

One issue that is known to be keeping Smith from camp is concern that he could lose his contract guarantees if he is suspended for violating the NFL’s new helmet rule.

“We’re all working through that,” Pace said. “This is a little bit new for all of us.”

Smith was expected to compete for a starting linebacker role this season and to bolster the Bears’ defense. Pace said despite time away from practice, Smith still could start.

“We drafted him for a lot of reasons,” Pace said. “But one of the reasons was his football makeup and his football intelligence. Which is really off the charts. So he’s a guy who picks things up quickly.”

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