Bears inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski produced an impact play—both figuratively and literally—with a first-quarter sack in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Browns.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Browns at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The second-year pro knocked quarterback Cody Kessler halfway to Northbrook with a big hit that resulted in an eight-yard loss on third-and-six, forcing Cleveland to punt.
“Christian [Jones] came and kind of cleared the way for me,” Kwiatkoski said. “When I came around it was just me and the quarterback. Anytime you get a sack, a big play, it feels great, especially something clean like that.”
Kwiatkoski hopes to take another step this season after showing promise as a rookie last year when he recorded 43 tackles, one sack and five tackles-for-loss while starting the final six games.
Asked about his progress at inside linebacker, he said: “I’m proud of it. I’ve come a long way. Just coming back, looking at film from my first week there, first game to now, there’s a big jump.”
Stepping up: Kwiatkoski wasn’t the only inside linebacker to flash Thursday night. John Timu tied for the team lead with six tackles while also recording one sack and two tackles-for-loss.
Though the performance should enhance Timu’s chances of surviving final cuts Saturday, the third-year pro insisted he won’t spend the next 48 hours obsessing about his future.
“I’m not even thinking about the things you can’t control,” Timu said. “It’s not even worth the anxiety you place on yourself. Just go out there and make the plays you can make, that you’re supposed to make and then everything will fall into line after that.”
Snap decision: With Pat O’Donnell called upon to punt nine times Thursday night, long-snapper Jeff Overbaugh got plenty of opportunities to prove himself in his first Bears debut.
“I thought he did really well, especially with 20-mile-an-hour winds out there,” O’Donnell said. “It’s hard to play at Soldier Field in your first game like that. I thought he did real well.”
Overbaugh entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with the Rams and also has spent time with the Broncos, but he has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
“My mentality was just to go out and trust my preparation and trust coaches’ preparation throughout the week,” Overbaugh said. “It was a short week for me and a short week for the team as well. I also wanted to enjoy it because you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get. I talked to Charley Hughlett, the Browns snapper, after the game. He told me he was released nine times before he landed and stuck with the Browns. So just enjoy it and trust your preparation.”
Health news: Five Bears players exited Thursday night’s game with injuries: Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston (knee), receiver Victor Cruz (knee), safeties Deiondre’ Hall (hamstring) and Harold Jones-Quartey (hamstring) and quarterback Connor Shaw (hamstring).
Shaw, who exited twice on the Bears’ final drive of the game, completed 11 of 18 passes for 110 yards and a 78.5 passer rating. He also rushed for 16 yards on five attempts and was sacked three times.
Night off: As is customary in the final preseason game, the Bears rested most of their key players. The following individuals did not play Thursday night: Connor Barth, Mark Sanchez, Mike Glennon, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Joshua Bellamy, Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Kyle Fuller, Jordan Howard, Marcus Cooper, Ka’Deem Carey, Sherrick McManis, Tarik Cohen, Chris Prosinski, Bryce Callahan, Eddie Jackson, Jerrell Freeman, Dan Skuta, Jonathan Anderson, Danny Trevathan, Cody Whitehair, Bobby Massie, Josh Sitton, Charles Leno Jr., Kyle Long, Zach Miller, Dion Sims, Jonathan Bullard, Eddie Goldman, Sam Acho, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Willie Young and Mitch Unrein.