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Akiem Hicks Eligible to Begin Practicing Again

Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks can begin working toward a return from injured reserve starting this week.

The usual attrition of the NFL season has deprived the Bears of a handful of players.

It seems one will be given back.

Defensive end Akiem Hicks becomes eligible to return to practice this week with the anticipation he could leave injured reserve and play against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15. Hicks suffered a left elbow injury when his arm was bent awkwardly as it hit the helmet of Khalil Mack against the Raiders Oct. 6 in London.

"It'd be huge, any time you have a guy that is the type of player he is, the type of leader he is, what he's meant," Nagy said.

A Pro Bowl player last year for the first time, Hicks has maintained a large presence in the locker room and on the sidelines at games since going on IR.

"I like the way he's handled himself here in the last whatever it is, seven or eight weeks," Nagy said. "He's done a great job at being around and being a great teammate and a leader and mentor to all these younger guys.

"It's exciting when you get to this point. It does feel like forever ago, but hopefully we can get that moving forward."

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Nagy did admit he has no idea how Hicks will respond to practicing again.

The impact of losing Hicks has been obvious on the Bears defense, although they've held it together enough to remain fourth in yardage allowed.

Hicks was injured on the eighth play for the Bears defense against the Raiders, and they were giving up just 61.5 yards rushing a game heading into that week. Now they allow 97.5 yards a game and are eighth against the run. 

The absence of Hicks also impacted the pass defense greatly. Not only does he have 24 sacks in four seasons since coming to Chicago, but he often helped make it difficult to double- or triple-team Khalil Mack.

The Bears got through Thursday's game without any new injuries, and the biggest injury concerns heading into the Dallas game will be the concussions that kept wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and tight end Ben Braunecker out of Thursday's game. Both have had concussions in the NFL before, and Gabriel has has two this season.

They also were without right tackle Bobby Massie against Detroit due to a back injury, but Cornelius Lucas stepped in and played a mistake-free game. The status of Massie and all the other injured players will be updated again on Sunday.