LAKE FOREST – There have been many unpleasant surprises when it comes to the 2019 season, but their backup middle linebacker is certainly not one of them.
Most likely, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this player as he makes the very most out of his limited opportunities with the Bears.
With Danny Trevathan’s elbow injury suffered against the Lions on Sunday severe enough that the Bears are considering placing him on Injured Reserve, Nick Kwiatkoski is expected to see a lot more playing from here on out. That might not be a terrible thing for the Bears, because the two games he’s seen action on defense this season have been quite productive.
Against the Vikings on September 29th as the fill-in for Roquan Smith, who was a late scratch from the game, Kwiatkoski has ten tackles along with a sack and forced fumble. His play was a major bright spot in arguably the Bears’ best defensive performance of the year in a 16-6 win over the Vikings at Soldier Field.
Only seeing time on special teams after that, Kwiatkoski went into the game for Trevathan in the first quarter and was just as effective. Once again he made ten tackles while registering a sack while also coming up with his first career interception.
“Preparation. I’ve said it before, but as a linebacker room, we were all prepared to play,” said Kwiatkoski of his ability to fill in effectively in 2019. “It was the defense, really. “
Coming into this season it seemed as if the fourth-round pick from the 2016 draft might be most valuable on special teams like he was during the 2018 season. Kwiatkoski was only on the field for over 20 percent of the defensive snaps three times last year, with heavy time coming in a blowout of the Buccaneers along with the final game of the season against the Vikings when starters rested late.
He didn’t see a snap until the Bears had the game in hand in Week 3 against the Redskins, getting in on 11 defensive plays in a 31-15 victory. Kwiatkoski was in for 57 percent of the snaps against the Vikings while filling in for Smith but wasn’t used in one play on defense the next four games.
That will change from here on out as Kwiatkoski likely get the majority of the snaps next to Smith in the middle of the Bears’ defense with Trevathan missing significant time.
“It’s not the way I wanted to get in, and he is a close friend of mine,” said Kwiatkoski of filling in for Trevathan. ” I will talk with him and try to move forward. I don’t know the extent of the injury, and I’m sure he doesn’t either.”
But the extent of Kwiatkoski’s contributions is about to grow for the final seven games of that season.