LAKE FOREST – Over the last two weeks, he made it very clear just how difficult it has been on the sidelines for the last two months.
So it’s safe to say that Akiem Hicks knew exactly what December 15th means, right?
“It’s a pretty specific date. I knew when it was coming and I’ve prepared accordingly,” said the Bears’ defensive end of the date of the game against the Packers. “One of the things I really focused on is just making sure that my elbow is in the strongest place possible.”
This date – December 15th – is the first possible time that Hicks can return to the lineup per the rules of injured reserve. He was on there for that aforementioned elbow injury against the Raiders that cost him eight games and put a dent in his along with the Bears’ 2019 season.
Now he’s back with a chance not only to help the Bears finish the season strong but also keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.
In all likelihood, they’ll need to win the rest of their games, including Sunday against the NFC North-leading Packers, to have any hope of making the postseason. Then they’ll need at least one loss from the Vikings outside of their Week 17 game in Minneapolis then two losses by the Rams to sneak in the No. 6 spot in the playoffs.
The odds are long for that to happen, but just having the chance to do so when it appeared unlikely a month ago is all Hicks could ask for.
“Isn’t that beautiful? Just to see the adversity, the grit, and the fight these guys had to go through; because I couldn’t help, you know?” said Hicks when asked about returning with the Bears still alive for a playoff spot. “To be in this position, at this time in the season, you have to take advantage of it.”
Right now it appears he’ll be able to do that, but Hicks still has to go through the week of practice leading up to the game to be officially cleared. The Bears return to practice at Halas Hall Wednesday, with three good days of practice likely landing him on the defensive line at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
“I feel good, I feel good. There’s some preparations that need to be made and some finishing and some cleaning and things to do, just to make sure I’m prepared to play, and do what I have to do out there,” said Hicks of the last part of his recovery to return to the lineup. “Just going about it like a regular work week.
Even though it’s not for the 2018 Pro Bowl selection, who could make a big impact by making plays and occupying defenders, which frees up the Bears’ outside rush led by Khalil Mack. Doing so against the team’s biggest rival only makes it that more special.
“One of the first things I was told when I signed here was that if you don’t win any game this year, you beat the Packers,” said Hicks, and on December 15th, he’ll probably get the chance he’s waited patiently for the last two months.