CHICAGO – When it comes to diagnosing an injury at the end of a game, Matt Nagy is usually not one to give a time frame for how long a player is going to be out.
But the Bears’ coach made an exception on Thursday night when he knew immediately that one of his starting linebackers is going to be out for a while.
“It doesn’t look real good for him,” said Nagy of inside linebacker Roquan Smith as he opened his news conference with the injuries the team suffered in a 31-24 win over the Cowboys at Soldier Field.
So it’s possible that fans have seen the last of the second-year linebacker for the 2019 season, and they only had one series to see him on Thursday night before he suffered a pectoral injury.
It happened on the last of a 17-play drive that nearly lasted nine minutes, as Smith collided with Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott as he went into the endzone for the game’s first score. Smith immediately ran off the field to meet with athletic trainers, and he was quickly taken to the locker room.
Should the injury keep him out for the rest of the season, it would bring an end to an unusual 2019 campaign for the Pro Bowl linebacker, who was playing his best football after a rough start. Smith was a late scratch for personal reasons against the Vikings on September 29th and his production slowed after that as he failed to register double-digits in tackles in four-straight games.
Against the Eagles, Smith regained his form and during a stretch of five games he made 52 tackles while collecting an interception along with two sacks. Those came in his last full game against the Lions on Thanksgiving in which he had a season-high 16 tackles.
He’d already made two stops on the Cowboys’ first drive before leaving with an injury, which put him over the 100 tackle mark for the season (101).
It’s another blow to the middle of the Bears defense since Danny Trevathan has already been sidelined the last four games with an elbow injury. Unlike Akeim Hicks, who also suffered an injury in the same place, the inside linebacker has yet to be placed on injured reserve.
With Nick Kwiatkoski already filling in for Trevathan, Kevin Pierre-Louis stepped in for Smith, just as he did for that Vikings game back in September. He held his own as he made six tackles, one for loss, along with two pass deflections in the seven-point win.
“We all help each other out so in times like that we just talk, communicate with each other,” said Pierre-Louis of the help he got from the fellow linebackers as he stepped in for Smith. “Kwit (Nick Kwiatkoski) has been doing an amazing job, and now I just need to make sure I do my role to help out the defense and carry on what we’re trying to do.”
Kevin might be doing that for a while if his coach is right about his prognosis of Roquan’s injury.