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Bears training camp: Akiem Hicks’ status unclear

The big man left practice early on Tuesday and, for now, leaves a sizable hole on Chicago’s defensive front.

NFL: Houston Texans at Chicago Bears Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Bears started practice at Halas Hall on Tuesday, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks left during warm-ups. Wild speculation is unfair, but Hicks leaving before training even begins is never a great sign to see initially. Chicago did not offer an update post-practice, but there might (key: might) be something operations in Lake Forest isn’t saying behind the scenes regarding the stalwart defensive lineman.

As far as his health, the 31-year-old Hicks has seen his snaps managed well in recent years with the aim of keeping him fresh down the stretch. It isn’t easy carrying around a 300-plus pound frame while being tasked with eating space and owning the interior of the offensive pocket. He shined in this respect in 2020 and featured on a little over 74 percent of Chicago’s defensive snaps—this, after missing the last 11 games of the 2019 campaign with an elbow injury.

Hicks is entering the last year of a contract signed back in 2017. He has maintained that he’d like to finish his career with the Bears, provided the two can reach a quality compromise. Given how much he means to the current core of Bears players and coaches, and provided he can stay healthy and available at the right price and term, it’d be difficult to envision Hicks wearing another jersey before he hangs up his cleats.

In other health slash availability Bears news, backup offensive tackle Badara Traore was carted off the field with a knee injury. Meanwhile Tre Roberson missed a padded practice after sustaining a knee injury of his own during Chicago’s exhibition victory over the Dolphins on Saturday. It’s another stroke of poor luck for Roberson, who broke his foot during last year’s training camp and didn’t participate at all during the 2020 season.

There was no change in the availability of some of the Bears’ core players. Roquan Smith (groin), James Daniels (quad), Germain Ifedi (hip flexor), and Danny Trevathan did not practice again. The aim appears to be more of an easing-in for these veterans to make certain they are good to go for Week 1 of the regular season.

The Bears’ athletic training staff is certainly striking a delicate balance halfway through August.