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Chicago Bears' first-round pick Roquan Smith participates in his first practice

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-08-15 03:00:14

LAKE FOREST, Ill. --- The Chicago Bears are happy to finally have Roquan Smith in training camp after reaching an agreement with the Georgia linebacker following a month-long holdout. The relief within Halas Hall was palpable on Tuesday afternoon as Smith, the eighth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, participated in his first Bears practice.

"It's a great feeling," Smith said after practice. "Just to be back out here with my teammates and getting back into rhythm so it's an awesome feeling."

Smith said he remained 'confident' that his representatives could hammer out a deal with the Bears despite being the final first round pick to sign with his new team. Smith's holdout drew national headlines in recent weeks as both parties struggled to find a middle ground regarding specific contract language about potential suspensions in relation to the NFL's new helmet contact rules [Feel free to add whatever else from Schefter]

Smith, who said he continued to train in Georgia during his holdout, spent Tuesday speaking to teammates on the sideline in between getting some reps in on the practice field. Bears head coach Matt Nagy said it was unclear at this point whether Smith would play in Saturday's preseason game against the Denver Broncos. The Bears head to Denver Tuesday afternoon for practices against the Broncos throughout the week prior to the game.

"I know he's going to do everything he possibly can to catch up," Nagy said. "Now he's got to do it. So to be able to get out here in Denver and have some good practices it's a great time for him. It's good for him to get back in shape and take some hits. Go ahead and see where he's at physically with his body. We'll just kind of gauge it as we go."

As for the possibility of Smith playing in the Bears regular season opener on Sept. 9 against the Green Bay Packers, Nagy was non-commital.

"Maybe in a week, week and a half I can answer that," Nagy said. "I don't know. I've seen him out here with no pads on for an hour and a half so I'll be able to stay in touch with [defensive coordinator] Vic [Fangio] and we'll see how that goes. Obviously, you hope so, right? That's one of the benefits of him being here now but we just got to see and I don't think it's fair to the other guys as well that have been out here battling each and every day. We go back to you got to earn [your spot] and come out here and show it."

When pressed for details on how his contract statement finally cleared up, Smith repeatedly deflected questions to 'my agent and [Bears GM] Mr. [Ryan] Pace."

Smith said he didn't regret that the holdout took so long, saying he was just happy to be back with his new teammates.

"That's just the business side of things," Smith said. "It is what it is. And I'm just happy to be here now."

Nagy acknowledged that there was some concern about Smith trying to do too much and making up for lost time after missing the Bourbonnais portion of training camp.

"That's our job as coaches and as a training staff to make sure that we limit that so that we don't overdue it," Nagy said. "And all of a sudden he comes out here, does too much, too fast, and then you lose him for longer."

Nagy said that Smith didn't address the team upon his arrival as both player and coach tried to keep things as business-like as possible.

"Why harp on [the holdout] that just happened?" You're here, our team's here, that's all that matters. Put it to the side and let's go play some football ... [I said] 'Welcome here, are you ready to play some ball?' It was really simple."

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