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Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, Bears’ D looking to Trubisky & Co. for helping hand

Led by defensive end Akiem Hicks (96, tackling Matt Ryan of the Falcons last season), the Bears were 10th in the NFL in total defense, ninth in points allowed. They hope to improve on those rankings this season. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BOURBONNAIS — In theory, it sounds good: facing an improved offense in practice will make the Bears’ top-10 defense that much better.

“I’m excited coming into camp,” said cornerback Kyle Fuller, who has worked against offenses ranked 23rd, 23rd, 28th and 29th in his NFL career. “Being able to compete against them every day is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Not only because it makes them better — I think it’s going to make us better. If you work hard at that every day, good things will happen.”

When training camp opens Friday at Olivet Nazarene University, much of the focus will be on coach Matt Nagy’s offense, with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and an upgraded receiving corps.

Even the defensive players are excited about the possibility that an improved offense can make their job a lot easier.

“As long as we’ve got guys like Allen Robinson around, I think our defense can make something happen,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said.

Hicks was at the interview table with Robinson on Thursday and feigned surprise when someone finally asked him a question. But they’re big fans of general manager Ryan Pace’s moves to invigorate the offense.

“It’s important — that was something in our offseason that [the front office] decided to work really hard toward building,” Hicks said. “I’m happy because we’ve got guys on offense that are going to be able to make some plays, and our offense is going in the right direction.


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“I was reading an article talking about how our offense operates and how it wears on the defense toward the end of the year if they’re not operating efficiently. So I need [Robinson] just as much as he needs me. When they make a 10-, 12-play drive, we’re on the sideline getting rested. So we just play off each other, and I think that’s going to work out good for us.”

The Bears’ defense was 10th in yards, 11th in yards per play, sixth in sacks per pass attempt and ninth in points allowed last season. It was the only defense ranked in the upper half of the league without a Pro Bowl player.

“We need to fix the little things that we did wrong last year and hopefully make it into the top five [in the NFL],” Hicks said. “That was my goal going into OTAs, and it’s still my goal now.”

Want your Bears training camp update without delay? Each day of summer practice, Sun-Times Bears’ beat writers Patrick Finley, Adam Jahns and Mark Potash will share exclusive insights on the workout and interviews in a livestream conversation 1 p.m. daily through August 12. Catch their live analysis and ask questions on Twitter: @suntimes_sports or follow Sun-Times Sports on Periscope to be notified of each live report.