When he speaks with the media after games or practice, Akiem Hicks is rarely at a loss for what to say. The defensive tackle isn’t one to mince words, a personality trait that suits him well as one of the Bears’ most vocal and unquestionable leaders. That’s why it was so surprising when he couldn’t properly express how much pain he was going through during the Bears’ 21-13 loss on Sunday afternoon.
“I would hate to describe it. I guess just imagine bones, doing that, moving a little bit when you don’t want it to,” Hicks said, mimicking the bone-on-bone agitation he felt by aggressively rubbing the knuckles of his two fists together. “That’s part of the game.”
Hicks made his much-anticipated return on Sunday afternoon, and his impact was felt almost immediately. On the Packers’ first play of the game, Aaron Rodgers dialed up a deep ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had a step on his man. Hicks got a great jump on the ball, getting in Rodgers’ line of sight and hitting him right as the quarterback uncorked the heave. It would fall a few feet in front of Valdes-Scantling’s outstretched hands. It was one of two QB hits and four tackles Hicks was credited with on the afternoon.
“I mean, I’ve been saying that Akiem is the juice, man,” Prince Amukamara said. “He brings the juice to this team. His leadership on the field and off the field. You can even see him and Eddie [Jackson] have a thing where they just feed off each other. We appreciate him coming back.”
Hicks’ impact on other defensive players was a heavily-discussed topic all week, but it centered more on how he would free up Khalil Mack (one tackle) and Leonard Floyd (one tackle) to create havoc. Instead, it was Jackson who led the team in tackles (6).
“It was huge, man,” Jackson said of Hicks’ return. “He gets us fired up.”
Hicks clearly struggled with the injury from the get-go. He was taken into the medical tent by trainers on two separate occasions, and at that point wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get back into the game.
He wouldn’t elaborate on what specifically was going on, only mentioning that the training staff did a terrific job working on the fly to make sure he stayed in the game.
“There’s a lot of doubt in that moment,” he said. “You’re in the medical tent, so you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. And so, they did their best to make sure I was able to play, and I was able to go back out and finish the game, so kudos to our team.”
Now that the Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, how the team treats Hicks’ final two games of 2019 will be something to watch for. When asked if he planned on being out there for games against Kansas City and Minnesota, Hicks smiled and chose his words carefully.
“I love football.”
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