CHICAGO – If an average fan was watching on Sunday, the conclusion seemed rather obvious.
Twice against the Packers, Akiem Hicks was shown on the broadcast in pain as he came to the sidelines to meet with athletic trainers about his ailing elbow. Each time it looked as if the defensive end’s game was about to end, but each time he came back and made his way onto the field to attempt to help the Bears’ beat their rivals while keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.
He finished with four tackles and two quarterback hits, and aided a relatively strong defensive effort, but the offense couldn’t put up the points in a 21-13 loss in Green Bay that all but ended the Bears’ playoff hopes. It became official three hours later, when the Vikings beat the Chargers in Los Angeles, and in the process many wondered if that would be the end of Hicks’ season.
After all, there was nothing but pride to play for and with two years still remaining on his contract, it seemed smart to bring an early end to Hicks’ season. Yet the Bears maintained all week that the defensive end was trending towards playing against Kansas City on Sunday night, even though he was listed as questionable after participating fully in practice on Friday.
“Just more of a managing thing, you know,” said Nagy when asked about Hicks being listed as questionable despite taking party fully in practice. “When you start getting into these guys here, that’s the biggest thing. The expectation is that he’s gonna play and it’s just more of a managing thing.”
Something changed between then and Saturday, when the expected happened with Hicks after an unexpected week.
The defensive end was ruled out of Sunday’s game on Saturday, with the team choosing to rest his ailing elbow instead of playing him against the Chiefs, who are still fighting for playoff positioning in the final two weeks of the season. A similar decision will await the Bears next week, when they face division rival Minnesota at US Bank Stadium.
Should the Vikings win against the Packers Monday night, they would be playing for a shot at an NFC North title that was won by the Bears a year ago.
If Hicks’ season comes to an end, there is no denying the impact his loss had on the Bears’ defense this season. Without him on the defensive line, teams were able to shift their focus on outside linebacker Khalil Mack, leading to a drop in some of his numbers for the 2019 season. His injury against the Raiders on October 6th was the start of a miserable stretch for the team in which they lost five-of-six games.
In five games this season, Hicks finished with ten tackles, five quarterback hits, a sack, and one fumble recovery.