Kevin Pierre-Louis is just fine operating in the background.
In his six-year NFL career, Pierre-Louis has only started one game. Instead, the linebacker has forged a reputation as a special-teams stalwart and a ready reserve. Last Sunday, he stepped into the shorthanded defense and collected four tackles.
For his efforts, he also collected the team's Sweep the Sheds Award this week.
"Any type of recognition is good," said Pierre-Louis. "It's the start of a tradition here. It's a blessing to be a part of it starting."
Coach Matt Nagy created the award this season after reading the book "Legacy" in the offseason. The book, which chronicles the culture of New Zealand's rugby team, the All-Blacks, begins with team captains cleaning the locker room or "sweeping the sheds" after a victory. The practice serves to show that no one is too big to do the small stuff.
When it comes to the Sweep the Sheds award, Nagy seeks to honor the inverse: no one is too small to come up big.
"The award, for us, is really about the players or people that maybe don't get all the recognition," said Nagy. "So it's easy for all of us, right? You see the stats; you see the (Nick) Kwiatkoskis stepping in, you see Chase Daniel stepping in, you see Nick Williams getting sacks. Everyone sees that, so you guys all talk about it, and we see it, right?"
Pierre-Louis's contribution is less likely to make a splash, but in Nagy's mind, it is no less essential to the Bears' win against the Vikings. The coaching staff was impressed by his preparation and his response to his increased role on short notice.
They also praised his technique in taking on blockers and keeping to his assignment: the dirty work that makes the difference in a defensive struggle.
Pierre-Louis is a veteran who has made stops in Seattle, New York, and Kansas City when Nagy was serving as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator. He cites his years of experience as the root of his ability to adjust to adversity.
"That's how the game goes," said Pierre-Louis. "You could be up at any moment. You have to prepare each week. I was just blessed to have the opportunity to step in the role that was for me."
The book "Legacy" emphasizes the equal nature of the All-Blacks, who strive for a culture where credit and responsibility are shared.
"To me, the Sweep The Sheds are the ones that go unrecognizable," said Nagy. "Guys that stepped in, they need to be recognized for not being recognized, essentially. And (Pierre-Louis) was a perfect fit for that between defense and special teams and the way he handled himself."
Pierre-Louis is no stranger to powerful team cultures. The Seahawks went to the Super Bowl during his rookie season, and four of his five full seasons have included a playoff run. Pierre-Louis doesn't compare the different teams for which he's played, but he has been impressed by the mood in the Bears' locker room.
"This is just a good group of guys," said Pierre-Louis. "It's just like anything. You go into a new environment. You have to find out who you are in that environment, just be yourself. All the guys in the room have been themselves."