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Kwiatkoski making steady improvement

Posted Dec 20, 2016

Rookie linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski has impressed Bears coaches with his instincts and playmaking ability while starting the last four games.

Late in Sunday’s game against the Packers, Nick Kwiatkoski made the type of play the Bears envisioned in April when they traded up in the fourth round of the draft to pick him.

Quickly diagnosing a screen pass, the rookie linebacker from West Virginia charged up field, splitting two blockers to drop Ty Montgomery for a one-yard loss.

Rookie Nick Kwiatkoski has impressed Bears coaches with his instincts and playmaking ability.

“That was a very nice play by him,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “Those are always hit or miss plays, those screens. The linebacker has to make a split-second decision, can he go knife in and make it or soft-play it and buy time for everybody else to get there. You have to make a decision right then and there and he made it and he was right and it was a great play by him.”

Kwiatkoski has steadily improved while starting the last four games, registering 26 tackles, one sack, two pass breakups and three tackles-for-loss.

“I’ve been very pleased just with his progress,” Fangio said. “With the opportunities he’s had he’s done well. He’s always had a play here or there he’d like to do over, which we all do, but I like his progress. I like his future and I think he’s a nice fourth-round pick for us.”

Taking the blame: Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Fangio blamed himself for the pivotal play that sunk the Bears late in Sunday’s 30-27 loss to the Packers.

The defense was in quarters coverage when receiver Jordy Nelson beat rookie cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc over the top for a 60-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers with under a minute to play. The long pass set up Mason Crosby’s winning 32-yard field goal as time expired.

“We were in that type of coverage and it offered a lot of help to some of the players,” Fangio said Tuesday. “It didn’t offer enough help to Cre’Von and they got behind him. It was a great throw and catch. If anybody’s at fault there, it’s me. I wouldn’t lay that blame on Cre’Von.”

Asked what he would do differently, Fangio said: “I’d do something to get him more help.”

Roster moves: The Bears on Tuesday promoted rookie running back Bralon Addison from the practice squad to the active roster, officially placed receiver Eddie Royal on injured reserve and waived offensive lineman Cornelius Edison.

Addison entered the NFL this year with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent from Oregon. He spent the offseason with Denver before being waived prior to the start of the regular season.

Addison appeared in 39 games with 24 starts at Oregon, catching 146 passes for 1,937 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also scored two TDs rushing and three on punt returns.

No all-stars: The Bears had no players selected to the Pro Bowl when rosters were announced Tuesday. If no alternates are added, this would be the first time the Bears have had no Pro Bowlers since they went five straight seasons without one from 1994-98.

No Bears were initially chosen last year, but Kyle Long later replaced injured Eagles tackle Jason Peters. Long also made it as a replacement at guard as a rookie in 2013.

Their top candidates this year include running back Jordan Howard, center Cody Whitehair and defensive end Akiem Hicks. The running backs who made the NFC team are the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, the Falcons’ Devonta Freeman and the Cardinals’ David Johnson.