CHICAGO – Somehow, Danny Trevathan popped up and sprinted to the sideline.
The Bears linebacker pressured Detroit quarterback Jeff Driskel in the first quarter, nearly sacking Driskel before the throw escaped his hand. As Driskel and Trevathan hit the ground, Trevathan’s left arm caught underneath Driskel in an awkward manner.
Awkward might be the PG-rated way of saying it. Replay confirmed: It was gruesome. Elbows shouldn’t bend that way.
Backup linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said he didn’t see the play, which happened on the sideline farthest from the Bears bench.
“I didn’t at all,” Kwiatkoski said after Sunday’s 20-13 Bears win over Detroit. “I didn’t know the extent of it or if he was going to come back. So it’s maybe one play, maybe more. Can’t really think about it. Just got to go play.”
Kwiatkoski ran into the game and spent most of the day on the field. Not for the first time did the fourth-year linebacker out of West Virginia acquit himself well.
Kwiatkoski, in Trevathan’s absence, made nine tackles, had one sack and hauled in his first career interception.
“Kwik has been doing this all year long,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. “You hate to lose a guy like Danny like that because he’s such a leader for us. We look at him for so many different intangibles. But with [general manager Ryan Pace] and his personnel guys, they created this depth chart throughout our team where, when guys go down, you’re able to have guys step up. Kwik has done that, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Kwiatkoski did the same thing in a win over Minnesota in Week 4, when linebacker Roquan Smith unexpectedly missed the game for unspecified personal reasons. Kwiatkoski had nine tackles and a sack in that game as well.
“We all know Kwit can be a starter on any team in this league,” Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “He’s like our little hidden gem, our utility guy. Whenever we need him, whenever his number’s called, he’s always ready. He’s one of the smartest guys on the defense.”
Amukamara compared Kwiatkoski – while admitting it might be a stretch – to Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Bears might need Kwiatkoski to continue to play that way if Trevathan is out for long. Nagy did not provide any update on the eighth-year veteran.
In the hours before the game, both teams had to process Detroit’s loss of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who missed the game with a back injury. Driskel, the backup, nearly led the Lions down the field for a potential game-tying touchdown in the final minutes.
Kwiatkoski recorded his sack of Driskel early in the fourth quarter. He said the quarterback stepped up right toward him.
“We knew he was kind of an elusive, big guy, fast, can make and extent plays,” Kwiatkoski said. “It was just something to be aware of throughout the game.”
On his interception in the third quarter, Kwiatkoski jumped the route on a pass intended for Lions receiver Kenny Golladay.
“Just reading the quarterback,” Kwiatkoski said. “He kind of had his eyes on that receiver. I didn’t know really what route he was running, I have eyes on the backfield. So just seeing him and the release of the ball.”
Trevathan is more than a great player for this Bears defense. He has been a vocal leader, too.
Amukamara said Nagy had Trevathan break the Bears last huddle in the locker room after the win, and after the first “Club Dub” victory celebration in weeks.
“Danny’s huge for our team,” Amukamara said. “We know he’s always rooting for us. I don’t know the extent of his injury but we hope to have him back as soon as possible.”