"We're optimistic he's here soon," Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters Thursday, noting details in the contract were holding up Smith reporting.
"There's a process and meanwhile we're moving forward," Pace added.
The No. 8 overall pick did not report with rookies Monday and continued to stay away as veterans reported to camp Thursday. The Bears play the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2, leading to an early end to their summer.
Smith, a rangy, speeding-bullet tackler and 2017 Butkus Award winner, is expected to step in immediately in the middle of Chicago's defense. First, the Bears need to find common ground on the contract situation and get their first-rounder into camp.