Roquan Smith holding out, so Bears’ Nick Kwiatkoski seizes ‘another opportunity’
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BOURBONNAIS — Roquan Smith’s holdout is bad news for everyone at Olivet Nazarene University but Nick Kwiatkoski. The third-year linebacker is getting Smith’s snaps and shining.
“It’s just another opportunity,” Kwiatkoski said. “It’s camp. It’s a grind. But anytime you get on the field, no matter where it is, you take advantage of it. Take it day by day. Go out there and make something of your opportunity.”
Kwiatkoski is not concerned about Smith’s holdout, which extended into the Bears’ first padded practice Sunday. The No. 8 overall pick and the Bears are negotiating over details of an otherwise standardized rookie deal. Smith didn’t join fellow rookies when they reported Monday and has missed three training-camp practices.
“We’re practicing here — things aren’t stopping or slowing down for anyone,” Kwiatkoski said. “He’s gotta handle what he’s gotta handle.”
Even if Smith were back, Kwiatkoski would’ve taken some snaps that belonged to Danny Trevathan, who has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury. Rookie Joel Iyiegbuniwe, a fellow inside linebacker, also missed practice with a shoulder injury.
Kwiatkoski made perhaps the day’s best defensive play, rolling to his left alongside Mitch Trubisky, jumping and tipping a pass, then catching it for an interception.
Smith needs the snaps more than Kwiatkoski does. The West Virginia alum is entering his third year in the Bears’ defense. The team likes his pass-rush ability, but nonetheless drafted someone to start in his place. A few days’ worth of Smith holding out probably won’t change the Bears’ plans for the rookie.
“[Kwiatkoski] is doing a good job, and that’s something he’s familiar with, being able to play that position last year,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Even when we drafted Roquan, we told everybody — Roquan, ‘Kwit,’ everybody — that you have to earn your job. So he’s taking advantage of the reps right now.”
Safety Eddie Jackson spent the offseason bothered by plays he didn’t make in his rookie year, be it because of a bad angle or a bad break on a pass he could’ve intercepted.
Jackson — who played so often that he received about $335,000, the NFL’s seventh-largest payout for performance-based bonuses — turned to another sport for comfort.
“They haunt you, of course, but you move on to the next play,” he said. “Try to have a pitcher’s mind frame. You’re going to throw some strikes. You’re going to throw some home runs, so just move on to the next one.”
This and that
Tight end Daniel Brown missed practice with an ankle problem, Nagy said, and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch remained out with a hamstring injury suffered Friday.
◆ Guard Kyle Long returned to practice after taking a planned day off Saturday in his return from three offseason surgeries.