Akeem Hicks returns to practice as he works his way back


by - Staff Writer -
Hicks is a run stopper for the Bears (Ron Chenoy - USA Today Sports)
Hicks is a run stopper for the Bears (Ron Chenoy - USA Today Sports)

Say what you want about the Bears struggles this season as they have been noticeable on both sides of the ball. A big part of that has been the losses of several key pieces for extended periods, including one major piece on the defensive line.

Akeem Hicks, who has been the Bears' best front-line presence, has battled injuries all season, including which has sidelined him for nearly two months. Well, for both Hicks and the Bears, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as Hicks has now returned to practice for a second straight day as he is preparing to get back on the field.

For those who haven’t had the privilege to watch Hicks on a snap by snap basis, they often undervalue him just as to how good he can be on the field. Those days should be well behind anyone now after seeing how much different the Bears defense performs without their primary run stopper in the middle.

With him now returning to practice to get back into game shape, that means that he will be returning to the field soon for the first time since suffering his elbow injury on October 6. Even though he has officially been cleared to practice again, Hicks is still a long way away from being ready but has sent a message to the Bears staff that regardless of the standings in week 15 and 16, he will be playing against both the Packers and the Vikings. That leaves this week against the Cowboys up in the air, but it certainly doesn’t look like this week is a go.

Without any live tackling, I imagine it is going to be tough for the coaching staff to determine just how ready Hicks is and if he is 100% ready to go. However, simply seeing him back on the practice field for a second straight day should be enough to lift the spirits of everyone on defense as they know they need to do better collectively as a unit.

If you were to ask Hicks about his recovery process, the beast in the middle won’t shy away from how difficult it was, claiming that it was even miserable at times. The elbow injury prevented him from being able to lift with his right arm the way he was used, forcing him to compensate in other ways. It was certainly a humbling experience for a player that has come into his own in recent years, but now Hicks is just trying to get his body right for the closing portion of the season.

“If I can get my body back to a place where I can compete at a high level, there is nothing that will stop me from getting on the field,” Hicks told ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson.

That is terrific news for all the Bears faithful, but what does that mean in terms of his overall health? Is he ever going to be 100% this season, or is he just trying to get his body to a place where he can tolerate the pain enough to play?

It is truly great to see Hicks gearing up for a late-season return, especially with the Bears finding themselves right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. Hicks is a game-changer in the defensive lineup, and if there are no setbacks during his recovery time, he should be on the field ahead of the Packers game in week 15. He stuffs the run, harasses QB’s, and brings all sorts of intangibles to the table when he is playing. It will be an early Christmas present to see him back on the field, playing meaningful games down the stretch.

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