Bears

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatkoski also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Eddie Jackson active, Kevin White inactive for Bears vs. Rams

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Eddie Jackson active, Kevin White inactive for Bears vs. Rams

The Bears starting lineup for both sides of the ball are fully active for their primetime, Week 14 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.

Mitchell Trubisky did not appear on the final injury report this week, confirming ahead of time that he would be clear for his return, but safety Eddie Jackson ended the week questionable for the game.

One safety did end up inactive, but it wasn’t the second-year starter.

Deon Bush was listed as doubtful for the game with a shin injury, and he is unable to take the field. Jackson and rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols were both questionable, and neither one will miss the contest.

Wide receiver Kevin White is once again a healthy scratch for the Bears with tight end Adam Shaheen back in the lineup. Fullback Michael Burton is even active over the former first-round pick.

The only key starter missing for the game is the one injured reserve, right guard Kyle Long. 

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Bears vs Rams, Week 14: How to watch, listen and stream

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USA TODAY

Bears vs Rams, Week 14: How to watch, listen and stream

The Bears are facing their toughest test of the season against the NFC-leading Los Angeles Rams. Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky have been compared to Sean McVay and Jared Goff many times, and now they get to go head to head.

Here’s how you can tune in to the game.

Game Information

Los Angeles Rams (11-1) at Chicago Bears (8-4)

7:20 p.m. CT, Sunday, Dec. 9

Soldier Field, Chicago

Television

Sunday Night Football on NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

Stream

Stream on NBC Sports

Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago

Radio

WBBM 780 (Chicago)

Satellite Radio

National broadcast: XM 88

Bears feed: XM 225

Rams feed: XM 226

Coverage on NBC Sports Chicago

“The Warm Up” — 15 minutes prior to every Bears game this season, host Laurence Holmes, along with analysts Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, will hold a special Facebook Live segment on NBC Sports Chicago’s official Facebook page — offering a game day preview featuring their expert commentary and predictions. 

Plus - Bears fans will have also an opportunity to have their questions answered by submitting their game day inquiries via the “comments” section on the live stream.

“3rd Quarter Sidecast” — At the start of the third quarter of every Bears game this season, fans will also be able to interact with the Football Aftershow crew via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) as they watch and react to the first few series of the second half.

In addition, the “3rd Quarter Sidecast” will also feature more fan interaction as fans can post their thoughts and ask their questions to Briggs, Brown, and Forte.