The Bears generally avoided the injury bug last season en route to winning the NFC North title with a 12-4 record. But that hasn’t been the case this year.
The reigning division champions on Tuesday placed defensive tackle Akiem Hicks on injured reserve with an elbow injury he sustained in the Bears’ 24-21 loss to the Raiders Oct. 6 in London. The move comes one day after right guard Kyle Long was put on injured reserve with a nagging hip injury.
It’s not known whether Hicks will be a candidate to return to the active roster later in the season; coach Matt Nagy likely will be asked about that possibility when he speaks to the media on Wednesday. Every NFL team can re-activate two players after they spend a minimum of eight weeks on injured reserve.
Hicks started each of the first three games this season before missing a Week 4 win over the Vikings with a knee injury he sustained in a Week 3 victory over the Redskins. He then returned against the Raiders but was injured on the game’s opening possession.
Bears defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said that Hicks will continue to attend meetings and games while recovering from his injury. On the field, Rodgers will miss the veteran defensive lineman’s mentality and toughness.
“Those are the things that he really prides himself on,” Rodgers said. “He’s a nasty player. He loves to play physical.”
In four games this season, Hicks recorded six tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one tackle-for-loss.
Hicks spent his first four NFL seasons with the Saints (2012-15) and Patriots (2015). Since signing with the Bears in 2016, he has started 52 games and registered 169 tackles, 24.0 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 39 tackles-for-loss.
The 6-4, 352-pounder was voted to his first Pro Bowl last season when he led the Bears with 12 tackles-for-loss while ranking second behind Khalil Mack with 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 16 quarterback hits.
The Bears filled the roster spot vacated by Hicks by promoting undrafted rookie guard Alex Bars from the practice squad. Bars is expected to compete with veteran Ted Larsen and converted defensive lineman Rashaad Coward to replace Long at right guard.
The Bears replaced Bars on the practice squad by signing linebacker Fadol Brown.