Defensive end Akiem Hicks is as passionate about life as he is about football, and he seems to get the most out of both. So striking the delicate balance between chilling out after the end of the Bears’ offseason program and preparing for one of the most highly anticipated seasons in recent memory isn’t that tricky for him.
‘‘It’s all about just finding that final form for what’s going to carry me throughout the entire season,’’ Hicks said after the Bears’ final minicamp practice Thursday at Halas Hall. ‘‘So right now I’m about to go into my shell, and I’m going to be hard to reach and hard to talk to. The only person that gets through is Mom.’’
But there still is some mental tapering to do.
‘‘Just mold what I think will be a dominant defensive lineman for this season,’’ Hicks said.
Hicks was probably right behind outside linebacker Khalil Mack on a list of things the Bears didn’t have to worry about this offseason. At 29, he’s in the prime of his career and eager to take the next step after making his first Pro Bowl last season.
But the Bears had work to do in several other facets after a 12-4 season and a home playoff loss to the Eagles that heightened expectations for 2019. And coach Matt Nagy was happy with the results, as always.
The regular season will be the true test of how much the Bears accomplished in an all-important offseason. They have an unsettled kicker situation and uncertainty about the availability of tight end Trey Burton (sports-hernia surgery) and receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder surgery). But they think they’re on schedule on all other fronts.
‘‘The balance of working hard, getting better and improving from last year, which I thought we definitely did, you can check that off,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘But then also keeping it fun and making sure we as coaches [and] players build that bond.
‘‘I don’t like monotony, don’t like being the same person coaching all the time. I like to change things up. With these guys, it’s easy the first year. Getting into the second year, let’s do some different things, and we’ll do that and continue to do that in training camp, too.’’
Next stop, Bourbonnais. Nagy, like everybody else, will get away from it all after the offseason program. But with excitement and anticipation so high, it will be tough to avoid thinking about football.
‘‘In certain ways, [the season] never ends,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It won’t necessarily end when we leave here the next couple of days. But I think it’s important that I make sure I’m still a good dad and a good husband, and during the season you don’t get any of that. And that’s still your obligation.
‘‘But we’ll be going some places with my family. I’ll put football aside for a little bit because that’ll make me better — and better in the season.’’