Bears' Roquan Smith confirmed as the Will linebacker in defense

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Roquan Smith confirmed as the Will linebacker in defense originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Roquan Smith is the playmaker of the Bears' defense.

As the playmaker, he's recorded nearly 100 solo tackles in the last two seasons, combining for just under 200. He's also one of the duo (he and Ray Lewis) that have recorded 300 tackles and 30 plus tackles for loss in two seasons -- the only to do it in NFL history.

Understanding all that, head coach Matt Eberflus declared Smith will play the "Will" linebacker in his and Alan Williams' defense. It's all predicated on the HITS philosophy—an acronym standing for hustle, intensity, taking care of the ball and smarts.

The 4-3 defense and Cover 2 schemes that the former Colts' pair run requires a lot of running around the field to attack the ball at certain points. It's why Eberflus emphasized the conditioning that comes with the preseason work and for the players to "bring their track shoes."

On Wednesday at camp, Eberflus administered a conditioning test and announced that everyone on the team passed it. Except one big name.

Roquan Smith.

It's not that Smith didn't pass it. He was designated to the PUP list before Wednesday's practice, meaning he's unable to participate in any practices until he's removed from the list. Eberflus declined to mention the reasoning Smith is on the list, but admitted that Smith did not partake in the conditioning test.

Nevertheless, the test is quite unnecessary for Smith to take. His specialty is covering ground on the field. It's the reason he records nearly 100 solo tackles every single season. It's also the reason spectators criticize his pass coverage and not his ability to get from sideline to sideline.

In the new defensive scheme, SAM and MIKE are blocking players that work on keeping the WILL free. The WILL is expected to navigate the traffic created by the strong side and middle linebackers and make plays on the ball. If the defense is doing their job, he should be able to create plenty of plays.

To make this happen, however, the Bears need to finalize on a contract for Smith. He is expected to make $9.7 million this season. However, Smith is conducting a "hold-in" by showing up to practice but not taking the field in light of his contract.

It's likely Smith wants roughly $20 million because that would equate to him being the highest paid linebacker in football over Fred Warner and Shaquille Leonard. Leonard played the WILL linebacker spot under Eberflus' defense.

Once Smith and the Bears inevitably come to an agreement, it'll be fun to watch Smith fly around the field, hawking ball-carriers with his lightning fast speed.

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