To say Akiem Hicks has been a force on the defensive line is an understatement.
He has played the fifth-most snaps of any player at his position, including 127 of the last 129 defensive snaps since the bye week. Hicks missed exactly two plays in the team’s Week 11 loss against the Detroit Lions, but appeared on the injury report on Wednesday with a knee injury. But when asked about his injury status, Hicks didn’t seem concerned about missing practice in the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It’s just a little bit of maintenance,” Hicks said in an interview on Friday. “Keeping the body right. Making sure you go into the week as strong as possible. We’ll be good.”
Hicks leads the Chicago Bears in sacks (7) and is Pro Football Focus’ 14th-highest-graded interior defender. He has done it all along the defensive line with a run defense grade that ranks eighth and a pass rush grade that sits as the 19th best among 112 qualifiers at his position. I don’t want to think about where this defense would be without him anchoring the line.
Keeping Hicks in the lineup should provide a boost to a defense that will be without outside linebacker/edge rusher Leonard Floyd (season-ending knee injury) and most likely will be missing inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (who is doubtful with a calf injury). A healthy Hicks gives Chicago’s defense a fighting chance against a Philadelphia offense that has scored a league-leading 320 points and ranks sixth in total yards.
The Bears have 11 players on injured reserve, including four Week 1 starters on defense, so losing another – even if it was for just one game – would have made an already tough task that much more difficult.