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Bears assistants talk Akiem Hicks, Cassius Marsh and more

Breaking down the best of what Bears position coaches had to say this week about star players, controversial flags and a potential milestone:

Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks rushes against the 49ers.
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Breaking down the best of what Bears position coaches had to say this week about star players, controversial flags and a potential milestone:

Akiem Hicks is still hurting

Having gritted his way through a groin injury, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks sprained his ankle against the Steelers and was limited to 49 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps.

His presence at practice Wednesday — or lack thereof — will go a long way toward whether he plays Sunday. The Bears need all the defensive line help they can muster; their opponent, the Ravens, are tied for the NFL lead with 154.1 rushing yards per game.

“He’s showing those guys that this is a physical, tough league,” defensive line coach Chris Rumph said. “You’re going to have some bumps and bruises but you need to fight through it and keep pushing. It’s been really good for the guys to see a guy who’s been around the game for a couple of years out there do it at his age.”

Hicks has been playing in obvious pain since Week 4, when he hurt his groin on the Lions’ first play. He sat out Weeks 5 and 7, facing the rival Packers in between, before returning in Week 8.

“It’s heart-breaking ... seeing a guy battling through the season,” Rumph said. “He’s out there battling and just came up a little short with the injury.”

Cassius Marsh didn’t need reminding

Whether or not the Bears agree with the NFL’s taunting rule — or referee Tony Corrente’s interpretation of it in the final minutes of the Steelers game — outside linebacker Cassius Marsh knows not to gesture toward the opposing bench again.

Outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey said he “didn’t have to say anything” to him after the controversial flag was thrown on Marsh for, the NFL said later, taking a “posture” toward the Steelers’ bench.

“At the end of the day, he’s a veteran guy,” Shuey said. “He knew he was new here. And so I didn’t really have to say a whole lot to him on that. I said, ‘If you get back out there.’ … He said, ‘I will play it very conservatively.’”

Lost in the penalty hubbub, Shuey said, was that Marsh prepared well for the Steelers despite being signed only five days before the game. Marsh played 31 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps against the Steelers. If Khalil Mack remains out, he figures to once again be a rotation player this week.

The Bears have liked Marsh for years, even trying to claim him in 2017. Shuey spent most of Marsh’s first week helping him translate the Bears’ scheme into terminology he already knew from having played for seven other teams.

“In my opinion, he played a good game,” Shuey said. “It’s unfortunate that one … he’s going to be remembered for that one play. If you look at the number of snaps he played, especially coming in in a short time, to basically be able to come in and function through the whole call sheet was impressive.”

Darnell Mooney eyes 1,000

Receiver Darnell Mooney isn’t on pace for 1,000 yards — he’s averaging 50 per game, which pencils out to 850 in the new 17-game schedule — but the Bears’ offensive improvement has put the milestone in play.

Allen Robinson eclipsed that total in each of the last two years with the Bears. Mooney, though, has thus far had a better connection with rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

“When you’re in this league, that’s always the number on an individual basis that any wideout would like to have,” receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “Even the last couple of years with A-Rob, even though his stature, how many balls he was catching, that’s still a huge number in this league. But that’s not talked about. It never really is talked about. But obviously [Mooney] has the capability to do that.”