Bears notebook: News on Akiem Hicks’ absence, John DeFilippo, Jeremiah Attaochu

A roundup of Bears notes after the second practice of training camp.

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hicks.JPG

Hicks has 46 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles in his five seasons with the Bears.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

With the Bears already down a few starters because of injuries, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks missed practice Thursday.

When coach Matt Nagy gave a list of injured players before practice, he did not mention Hicks. The Bears did not respond to a post-practice request for clarification.

It has been common over the last few seasons for the Bears to give Hicks, 31, days off to avoid overworking him.

Hicks is going into his 10th season but has been mostly healthy and missed just one game last season. He has started 68 of 80 possible regular-season games since joining the Bears, and the majority of those absences were because of a dislocated elbow in 2019. He is in the final season of a four-year, $48 million contract.

The Bears opened training camp without safety Eddie Jackson (hamstring), running back Tarik Cohen (knee), left tackle Teven Jenkins (back) and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi (hip). Outside linebacker Robert Quinn (back) and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (toe) were limited for the second day in a row.

Aside from Cohen, who is working back from a torn ACL suffered in September, Nagy described those injuries as minor.

Attaochu seeks continuity

New outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu is just like the rest of Chicago: He hopes the Bears’ defense gets back to the way it played under former coordinator Vic Fangio.

Attaochu, who played for Fangio in Denver the last two seasons, chose the Bears in free agency because he expected defensive coordinator Sean Desai to run a similar system.

“It was pretty much a no-brainer for me,” he said.

Attaochu is coming off one of the best seasons of his career with five sacks, a forced fumble and 31 tackles. He got extensive playing time because starter Von Miller was out, and it’s likely he’ll get significant snaps for the Bears, too.

While Quinn is the Bears’ starter opposite Khalil Mack, he played just 51% of the defensive snaps and had two sacks last season. Mack was the only Bears player with more than five sacks, leaving Desai’s staff searching for solutions in the pass rush all offseason.

DeFilippo held out

The Bears believe they’ll mostly avoid issues with the coronavirus this season because of the high vaccination rate among their players, but they’ve already hit a snag.

Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo missed the first two practices because he is in the protocol. Nagy said he is fully vaccinated.

At least 85% of the Bears’ roster is vaccinated, Nagy said, and that could translate to fewer restrictions. The NFL hasn’t announced anything yet, but it’s expected there will be benefits for teams at that threshold.

“I feel really good about that,” Nagy said. “We know who the guys are that are not fully vaccinated, which helps us out, and that number keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

All 11 players — including quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver Allen Robinson and Mack — who have spoken to the media since training camp opened did so inside Halas Hall without a mask, indicating they are fully vaccinated.

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