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The Bears will have running back Damien Williams back to team with running back Kahlil Herbert this week for a 1-2 punch in the backfield. 

What they won't have is one of their best run stuffers.

Defensive end Akiem Hicks has been downgraded from questionable to out for Sunday's game in Tampa Bay and he did not make the trip with the team to Tampa.

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It leaves the Bears in a difficult situation up front against the Buccaneers offense because defensive lineman Bilal Nichols has a knee injury that kept him out of practice on both Thursday and Friday, and he normally would replace Hicks on the left side of the defensive line. Nichols usually plays the right end spot in the base 3-4. 

Without Hicks and Nichols, it might mean extra playing time for backup Angelo Blackson, for rookie Khyiris Tonga and even more time for Mario Edwards Jr., who has largely been used as a three-technique pass rusher in the four-man pass rush.

Getting back Williams back now from the reserve/COVID-19 list is vital because the temperature at Tampa is supposed to be near 90 on Sunday and running one back all day in those conditions might not be realistic. Herbert had 75 yards and Williams 64 when the two teamed up against the Las Vegas Raiders two weeks ago, but Tampa Bay has the No. 1 run defense in the NFL.

For additional help on Sunday, the Bears have activated guard Dieter Eiselen and defensive tackle Margus Hunt to the 53-man roster as COVID-19 replacements for Robert Quinn and Jimmy Graham, who are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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