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Chalk Talk: How much will Hicks play Sunday?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

I'm excited about Akiem Hicks returning to action Sunday against the Packers. But after missing eight games, how many snaps can he realistically be expected to play?
George L.
Bellingham, Washington

That's something the Bears will continue to work through during the week. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said Thursday that Akiem Hicks  is "progressing nicely," but the veteran defensive tackle still needs to be monitored in the days leading up to Sunday's game. And I wouldn't be surprised if his playing time depends on how he looks once he gets on the field against the Packers. Here's what Pagano had to say about how much Hicks will play Sunday: "It's just a matter of watching him on tape, watching him in practice, communicating, getting a feel, talking to him, seeing how he's doing, seeing where he's at with the cardio stuff. He did a great job and the trainers did a great job while he was out of taking care of himself. He's rehabbing that elbow, but at the same time he was taking care of his body and staying in shape. But again, there's nothing like football shape. So until you get the pads back on and you get out there and play, I think time will tell on that. It's just constant dialogue and communication."

I was impressed with how linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis played after Roquan Smith got injured against the Cowboys. Has 'KPL' been a starter at any point in his NFL career?
Phil S.
Gurnee, Illinois

Kevin Pierre-Louis has played 68 games in six NFL seasons with the Seahawks, Chiefs, Jets and Bears, but he's only made one start—for Seattle in 2015. So he's never been a regular starter in the league. His most productive year playing defense was in 2017 with the Chiefs when he compiled 35 tackles and one tackle-for-loss. I agree with you that he performed well against the Cowboys, registering five tackles, one tackle-for-loss, two pass breakups and one special-teams tackle. The key to his success, according to defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, is Pierre-Louis always preparing as if he's going to start. Said Pagano: "It all comes down to preparation and if you're not doing the stuff in the meetings, watching the tape, there's no way you can step on the field and execute the plays with minimal reps in practice, because the starters get 80-90 percent of those snaps. He'll get a snap here or there. Credit to [Mark] DeLeone, his position coach, and Kevin, for coming in here every single day and preparing like that."

When was the last time the Bears and the Packers played this late in the season with both teams entering the game with winning records?
Dan F.
Schaumburg, Illinois

The last time that occurred was on Dec 16, 2012 when the Packers beat the Bears 21-13 at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North title. Entering that game, the Packers were 9-4 and the Bears were 8-5. The Bears finished the season at 10-6. But they failed to earn a wild-card berth when the Vikings edged the Packers 37-34 in the season finale on Blair Walsh's 29-yard field with :03 remaining in Minnesota.

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