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With Akiem Hicks hurt, defensive-line help could be on the way for Bears

Defensive end Bilal Nichols, who broke his right hand in Week 2, is “very close to returning” to game action, coach Matt Nagy said.

Akiem Hicks
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

LONDON — Coach Matt Nagy was still awaiting updates on defensive lineman Akiem Hicks’ grisly elbow injury Monday when he detailed how the Bears could end up getting reinforcements after the bye week.

Defensive end Bilal Nichols, who broke his right hand in Week 2, is “very close to returning” to game action, Nagy said. The team wants to discuss the virtues of putting a club over his hand to protect it.

“It can be hard as a D-lineman when you’ve got to try to grab somebody, so we’ll see,” Nagy said. “But I’m excited. It feels like a little while since he’s been out. But you get guys hurt, and hopefully this bye week can come at a good time.”

Hicks’ left arm got pinned between teammate Khalil Mack’s helmet and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs’ pads on the game’s eighth play Sunday. Hicks appeared to hyperextend or even dislocate his elbow. Nagy and his teammates described him as being in tremendous pain.

Nagy said afterward that he didn’t expect Hicks’ injury to be season-ending.

Hicks missed the first game of his Bears career a week earlier against the Vikings because of a right-knee injury.

Flag day

The Bears were flagged 10 times for 75 yards against the Raiders, continuing a troubling trend. Their 43 penalties are sixth-most in the NFL, and their 360 yards are seventh-most.

Last year, the Bears had the fifth-fewest flags and yards with 100 for 848 yards.

Nagy was particularly peeved with two flags on the Bears’ first drive — a false start on quarterback Chase Daniel and a hold on left tackle Charles Leno — because he knew how important a fast start would be to his team.

“We get the ball and we’re getting first downs and then, boom, a penalty,” he said. “And then, boom, another penalty. And now, all of a sudden, it’s third-and-20. That’s hard.

“It’s about a start. How do you start? When you’re third-and-20 on your first drive, you’re in trouble.”

Roquan OK

Nagy was pleased with inside linebacker Roquan Smith’s nine-tackle performance, one week after he was a late scratch for unspecified personal reasons.

“I thought he did good,” Nagy said. “I thought just defensively overall, you could see it wasn’t really the defense that we know. That wasn’t us. [Defensive coordinator] Chuck [Pagano] will be the first to tell you. Our players will be the first to tell you. That wasn’t really who we are.

‘‘But that’s why we need to understand that every one of these games [is difficult] because of the parity in this league. So we need to realize that we gotta start fast. We’ve got to regroup.”