Prince Amukamara missed Monday’s practice with a hamstring injury, marking the first time this season the Bears’ veteran starting cornerback has appeared on the injury report.
At 6-6 and coming off their Thanksgiving Day victory over the Detroit Lions, the Bears began preparations with a light workout Sunday for a second consecutive Thursday game, this one against the 6-6 Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. It’s unclear if Amukamara – who has started the first 12 games, playing more than 98% of the total defensive snaps – was injured after he finished Thursday’s game.
Coach Matt Nagy met the media Monday before practice and won’t be available to provide an update on Amukamara until Tuesday, the last practice before hosting the Cowboys.
Amukamara, 30, is tied with first-team All-Pro Kyle Fuller for the team lead with 10 pass breakups but is searching for his first interception this season. After a rough start Thursday battling Lions emerging star Kenny Golladay, who made a 75-yard touchdown reception on Detroit’s first pass attempt, Amukamara settled down, tackling well in the open field and limiting additional explosive plays after halftime.
If Amukamara were unable to go against the Cowboys’ top-rated passing offense, it’s possible nickel Buster Skrine could kick outside in base packages, with Kevin Toliver likely covering the boundary opposite Fuller when the Bears go to their sub packages.
Amukamara was the only new addition to the injury report Monday, when concussions continued to sideline wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and tight end Ben Braunecker. As with that pair, right tackle Bobby Massie didn’t travel to Detroit because of the ankle injury that kept him out Monday along with Danny Trevathan (elbow).
Hicks speaks: Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who remains on injured reserve with a dislocated left elbow, practiced for the second consecutive day Monday, speaking afterward to reporters for the first time since suffering the injury in London in Week 5.
“I won’t lie, it was super tough. You know you play this sport, and you know that it’s violent and rough, and they say there’s a 100 percent injury rate. I always felt I was above that,” said Hicks, who’d missed only three games because of injury in his first seven seasons and none in his first three-plus years with the Bears before 2019. “I never really had to really experience some of the things that teammates of mine have experienced or opponents of mine have experienced. Yeah, it was hard on me.
“But everything that has a beginning has an end, right? Being here in this place right now and being able to practice with my teammates – there’s nothing better.”
The Bears’ defense has maintained its top-five standing in points allowed despite playing without Hicks since Week 5 and Trevathan since Week 10. Still, the drop-off early on defending the run without their best D-lineman was stark, and the overall pass rush hasn’t been the same since the team’s sack leader dating to 2016 has been out.
The Bears have consistently praised Hicks’ continued daily presence around the team despite him being on IR but won’t hide their excitement regarding his potential return when he’s first eligible to play in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers.
“He’s been awesome while he’s been out as far as being in the meetings, being engaged, being around the guys, on the sideline, encouraging his teammates, all that kind of stuff,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “... He changes the game. Nothing like reps and time on task to do that for a guy, but he commands double teams. He can whip one block. He can whip two blocks. He can get push in the pass game, from a pass-rush standpoint. So it’ll be good to get him back.”
The Bears confirmed Sunday that if he’s healthy enough, Hicks will play again this season – regardless of Thursday’s outcome vs. the Cowboys – and their leader on defense made clear that’s his top objective, too.
“I would say this: if I can get my body to a place where I feel like I can compete at a high level, there’s nothing that would stop me from being on the field with my boys,” he said.