Roquan Smith: Bears will have to wake up their skeptics

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- As the Bears have followed the lead of new coach Matt Eberflus, the early results have been clear on tape. The players have realized what buying in can mean for their culture.

The Bears have been projected by many to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. Amid all the work they've put in ahead of their season opener against the 49ers on Sunday, the Bears are taking exception to that narrative and also embracing their underdog status.

“With not many people counting you in, we love that,” Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said. “We'll have to wake them up.”

The 25-year-old Smith is entering his fifth NFL season and now working under his second regime at Halas Hall. After ending his contract hold-in on Aug. 20 and returning to practice, Smith has committed to Eberflus’ vision for him.

Smith intends to play out his final season under contract and then explore his future after that. Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who was publicly criticized by Smith during contentious contract negotiations, said he has been pleased with how Smith's focus quickly shifted to football.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for being able to change gears like that and going out and just playing football and doing it the right way,” Poles said. “I’m proud of him for handling that way. And he’s out there, and we’re better because of that.”

Despite his absence from training camp, Smith was voted by Bears teammates as one of their four season-long captains. Given how much of the roster has turned over, it was a notable appointment.

Smith is now leading the Bears forward and serving as a catalyst for their new culture. He senses the commitment of his teammates.

“When you have a young team," Smith said. "A lot of guys that are hungry and a lot of guys that, if we’re just being honest, haven’t done a lot in this league so far.

“It makes guys want to buy in, like, ‘OK, this is what it’s going to take? OK, we’re all for it. Let’s go.’”

Injury report
The Bears' injury report remained unchanged Thursday. Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) didn't practice, while rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson (knee) was a limited participant.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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