Ben Braunecker Goes on IR With Akiem Hicks' Activation
The Bears officially activated defensive lineman Akiem Hicks from injured reserve on Saturday and it meant the end of the season for tight end Ben Braunecker.
Braunecker has missed the last two games with a concussion suffered against the Giants Nov. 24 and hadn't practiced this week.
Hicks last played against Oakland in London Oct. 6 but suffered a dislocated elbow shortly after the start of the game.
Braunecker is actually the third Bears tight end to go on injured reserve. Starter Trey Burton went on with a calf injury after making a painstakingly slow recovery from a groin injury. Tight end Adam Shaheen is on IR with a foot injury.
Fourth tight end Bradley Sowell is more of a blocker than an actual receiver, which means the Bears will be relying extensively again on fifth tight end J.P. Holtz and former practice squad tight end Jesper Horsted. Each of them made big catches in the game with Dallas.
Holtz made three receptions for 56 yards against Dallas and Horsted had four for 36 yards. Horsted had his first touchdown against Detroit on Thanksgiving.
"So it gives you confidence as a coach knowing these guys are prepared, they're mentally prepared," coach Matt Nagy said. "And then you take it to the next level with their coaches making sure they're ready. When they get out there on the field, they've got to make a play."
The roster decision for game day the Bears will have to make is how many defensive linemen to have active now that Hicks is back. They've had Bilal Nichols, Nick Williams and Roy Robertson-Harris active to team in the three-man rotation with nose tackle Eddie Goldman. With Hicks active, it's possible Robertson-Harris would sit because he had a foot injury that cause him to miss practice twice this week.