Pro Bowl hopes? Bears’ Mack, Fuller, Jackson, Cohen leaders in fan voting
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This has been a breakout season in terms of recognition for Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks.
Largely overlooked on 3-13 and 5-11 teams in his first two seasons with the Bears, Hicks has been recognized as a leader on a resurgent squad that is likely to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
All he needs is a testimonial to acknowledge that recognition, which might come in the form of a Pro Bowl berth. The team will be announced live at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NFL Network’s Pro Bowl special.
‘‘It would be an honor,’’ Hicks said as the Bears prepared to face the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field. ‘‘It’s something I’ve wanted for a really long time. Is it guaranteed to happen? No. Have I been shafted before? Yes. Will it hurt the same? It for sure will. But that’s what we’ve got to deal with. I hope everything goes the way that I deserve. But we’ll see.’’
Hicks, who has 48 tackles, six sacks and 11 tackles for loss this season, is one of several Bears candidates for the Pro Bowl. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is a virtual lock, with 10 sacks and six forced fumbles. Safety Eddie Jackson, with five interceptions and three touchdowns, and cornerback Kyle Fuller, who is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, are good bets to make it.
Others in contention include inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith, nose tackle Eddie Goldman, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Adrian Amos, kick returner Tarik Cohen and center Cody Whitehair.
Players are selected by a consensus of voting from fans, players and coaches. Four Bears were leading vote-getters in fan voting: Mack, Fuller, Jackson and Cohen. Amos was second among strong safeties behind the Jets’ Jamal Adams. Fan voting is one-third of the selection process.
The expected haul for the Bears’ defense would be a long time coming. The defense, despite finishing 10th in the league last season, did not feature a player who had been named to the Pro Bowl until Mack was acquired in a trade before Week 1.
In fact, the Bears haven’t had a player selected to the original Pro Bowl roster since guard Kyle Long in 2014. They haven’t had a defensive player named to the original Pro Bowl roster since 2012, when defensive end Julius Peppers, cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings and defensive tackle Henry Melton made it with receiver Brandon Marshall.
The Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 27 in Orlando, Florida.
NOTE: Safety Eddie Jackson (shin), receiver Allen Robinson (hip) and defensive lineman Bilal Nichols (knee) are questionable for the game against the Packers but are expected to play. Jackson didn’t practice Friday, and Nichols was limited. Robinson had full participation.