The outside linebacker finished with five tackles, including three for losses. He also recorded one quarterback hit and four hurries in 10 snaps as a pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus.
It was an eye-opening performance from Kruger, but he is eager to continue that play into this Sunday’s home contest against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think I played well, but it’s hard to say,” he said Wednesday. “I’d have to go back and look at it, but I think I played well. But you’ve got to build on that and keep going each week and make that a regular thing.”
Kruger’s showing caught the eye of teammate and inside linebacker Ray Lewis.
“When things count, we have guys whose mentalities change, and Paul Kruger is one of those guys,” the 13-time Pro Bowler said. “He’s one of those guys that last week in the second half took the tight end and did whatever he wanted to do. But Paul has that type of talent. Paul has that type of skill, and that’s kind of what we were speaking about earlier. How do you replace a [Terrell] Suggs? You can’t replace a Suggs. But you can get a lot of experience so that when Suggs does finally make himself back, you have that experience in a Paul Kruger, in [a Courtney] Upshaw. So I take my hat off to those guys. I think they’re doing a great job.”
Kruger’s final numbers were somewhat surprising. Tabbed as the one to replace Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year who is rehabilitating a torn right Achilles tendon, Kruger sat out the second game of the season due to back spasms and then lost his starting job to Upshaw, the organization’s first pick in April’s draft.
Kruger conceded that his back occasionally tightens up.
“It’s just something you’ve got to keep an eye on and maintain each week,” said Kruger, who has avoided being listed on the team’s injury report in the last two weeks. “It gets a little sore here and there, but our training staff does a great job of getting you ready and they’re here at all hours of the day. So they’ve done an awesome job.”
Kruger played 57 snaps against the Chiefs, while starter Albert McClellan played just 21. But Kruger said he’s not worried about being labeled as a starter or a reserve.
“I’m comfortable,” he said. “I’m always the type of guy that wants more. It’s hard for me to leave the field, to be honest. But with the issue with my back, I’m coming back slowly. Now I feel 100 percent, but I think that’s kind of the mindset, working me in. I’m the type of player that wants to be in there every down. I’m not 100 percent satisfied until that’s the case.”