LAKE FOREST – From the opening plays, you could see just how much he was missed on the line.
The Packers’ rushing attack was effective going through the middle while Aaron Rodgers faced little resistance as he found receivers over and over again.
Akiem Hicks could have done something about that, being the force in the line that usually gets things started for the front seven. Missing 11 games last season showed the defensive end’s value to their strong defense and it was apparent again on this Sunday night.
Don’t think it wasn’t difficult for Hicks to watch the 41-25 loss at Lambeau Field, especially considering he tried to give his injured hamstring a go before the game. It wouldn’t cooperate, and it made for an unusual moment for Hicks during one of the more difficult nights of the Matt Nagy era.
“It was tough to deal with,” said Hicks. “You couldn’t imagine the moment itself when you’re prepping and your trying to see if your muscle or whatever thing you’re going through is going to work. All eyes are on you. Every coach is looking for the side; ‘Is he gonna play?’ The Sunday Night Football camera slides down and gets in your mouth.
“It’s an interesting moment, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to put myself out there and play to the best of my capabilities. I had to deal with that, then watching our team not play as well as we wanted to. That was another tough aspect of it.”
He along with the rest of the Bears’ defense is hoping that Hicks’ hamstring will keep him out just for that game against the Packers. He didn’t practice on Wednesday but was able to get on the field the last two days, increasing his chances of taking the field Sunday against the Lions.
Hicks has 39 tackles with 3 1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery in ten games in 2020, but when he’s out there, opposing defenses must account for him in blocking. Typically that opens things up for the others in the front seven to create pressure or gives linebackers a chance to stop the run near or behind the line.
That didn’t happen against the Packers, when the Bears didn’t even get a hit on Rodgers the whole game. Yet Hicks believes the absence of one shouldn’t cause the defense to have a performance like the one at Lambeau Field.
“I enjoy the place I’m at in my career. I enjoy the fact that I can contribute to my team. One thing I won’t allow to happen, and I don’t believe as a team or as a unit is that we should allow to is that when one guy is down we don’t perform the way we need to,” said Hicks. “One of the conversations that we had on the sideline that this is not how we play Chicago Bear football. This is not our defense; this is not our defensive line, more particularly.
“Looking to improve from there, I think that after having some of those conversations that night on the sidelines, I think our guys came out and performed better, but at that point, the damage was done. I think that we’re always pushing each other to get better and I always want our guys to play to their capability. Unfortunately, this past week wasn’t our best showing.”
One he had to watch go down on the sidelines, unable to help the cause.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera on Saturday at 6 PM on WGN-TV.