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Could Kwiatkoski win starting position?

Posted Aug 24, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses the likelihood of linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski winning a starting job, if Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will ever be on the field together and the one game Walter Payton missed during his illustrious 13-year career.




Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

With Danny Trevathan still recovering from a knee injury, could Nick Kwiatkoski make a good case to start next at inside linebacker next to Jerrell Freeman?

Bret C.
Elgin, Illinois

Nick Kwiatkoski seemed to be on that path, but he sustained a concussion in the preseason opener against the Broncos that forced him to miss last Saturday night’s game in Arizona. The good news is that the 2016 fourth-round pick returned to practice Wednesday and could play against the Titans Sunday in Tennessee. In order to fill in for Danny Trevathan at one of the starting inside linebacker spots, Kwiatkoski must build off his promising rookie season and take another step. He brings a physical presence to the position and seems to have good instincts. Another player to watch is Christian Jones, a fourth-year pro who improved dramatically during the course of last season and has continued to impress coaches this summer.

Since Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard have such different styles, do you think we will ever see them on the field together in the same backfield in a small number of packages? I would have to imagine having both of the field would be a match-up nightmare for opponents.

Dave

The Bears view Tarik Cohen as a third-down “joker” back who will create matchup problems for opposing defenses due to his size, quickness and speed. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to assume that Cohen won’t always be lined up in the same place, and if that’s the case it would allow the Bears to put Jordan Howard in the backfield when Cohen is lined up somewhere else. Of course we’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them out there together.

Could you clarify something about the one game that Walter Payton missed during his career? I remember hearing that it was because of an elbow injury and that it was a coaches decision that he not play. What’s the full story?

Troy S.
Frederick, Maryland

It was actually a sprained ankle that kept Walter Payton from playing in a 1975 game against the Steelers during his rookie season with the Bears. But the Hall of Fame running back always insisted that he could have suited up that day, saying years later: “I could have played, but my coach, Jack Pardee, wouldn’t let me. I don’t count that as a miss.” Payton followed by playing the next 186 straight games until his retirement after the 1987 season.

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