Coach Matt Nagy, however, believes the rookie linebacker will be ready to play against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, noting that missing Thursday's game versus Buffalo wouldn't preclude Smith from playing in the regular-season opener.
"No, I don't think so. I think there's still a good chance there," Nagy said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "[It's] day-by-day with him. Right now we've stacked two in a row for the positive, for the good. Let's just keep that thing going. If he's able to play and we feel good about it, trust me, we'll give him an opportunity to get in there."
While Nagy is optimistic the soft-tissue injury won't hinder the rookie when real games start, he soft-pedaled expectations.
"I don't want to get to a spot where we quote-unquote rush him back and then all of a sudden he comes back and, boom, you just lost another whatever six-to-eight weeks," Nagy said. "I don't want that."
Since being drafted No. 8 overall, Smith has been expected to step right into the middle of Vic Fangio's defense and become a contributing starter off the bat. The protracted contract dispute put that assumption to the test. Smith did not report until Aug. 14, after the Bears had broken training camp, ending a 29-day quandary.
As contract quarrels tend to induce, a subsequent hamstring issue will keep the rookie from participating in all five of the Bears preseason games. Veteran linebacker Sam Acho, however, suggested that the missed time shouldn't keep Smith from contributing right away.
"Since OTAs, maybe people forgot, but he was here for like a month-and-a-half and we were gelling, hanging out," Acho said. "He understood the defense. He has the playbook and he gets it. He's a guy who keeps his body in great shape. Obviously reps are important. We get that. He's been getting those [in practice] and he's been getting the mental reps as well. Sometimes those are huge, too.
"Roquan's ready. Roquan is a baller. You saw when he came in in OTAs. The first day he picked up the defense; making plays, interceptions, forced fumbles, sideline-to-sideline. I believe in him. I know he's ready."
Whether he gets the start against the Packers remains to be seen. The sideline-to-sideline tackling maven should toss his hat into the Defensive Rookie of the Year ring as a staple of the Bears defense if he can stay healthy in 2018.