Fox: Hicks' consistency a big asset to Bears

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in Detroit in December. Bears coach John Fox said he expects Hicks to continue to be a dominant force on the field.

    Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in Detroit in December. Bears coach John Fox said he expects Hicks to continue to be a dominant force on the field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/14/2017 10:23 PM

Defensive end Akiem Hicks was arguably the Chicago Bears' defensive MVP last year and maybe even the team MVP.

The 6-foot-5, 336-pound sixth-year veteran played 86.6 of the defensive snaps, tied for second on the team with 7 sacks, was first with 18 quarterback pressures and fourth with 71 tackles.

 

As a team leader, his voice on the field makes a big impression. "There are a lot of bigger things about him," coach John Fox said.

"His size; his strength. He's a guy that's (still) learning. A lot of these guys are learning how to be professionals, not just dominant physical specimens, but the consistency it takes to be a star player.

"He's got a lot of the God-given talent and ability. I really like the direction he's heading in and how he's been both as a player and a teammate this off-season.

"He probably had the best year of his career a year ago, and we just want to build on that."

Experience counts:

In six NFL seasons, including five as a starter, cornerback Prince Amukamara has just 7 career interceptions. His 3 picks in 2014 were his only season with more than 1.

But that doesn't mean the Bears' unrestricted free-agent addition isn't a good cover corner.

"He's sticky, he sticks on guys," coach John Fox said. "He's got good explosion; good foot quickness. He understands the game, he's played a lot, and we've been lacking there a little bit as far as experienced NFL defensive backs."

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Amukamara and fellow unrestricted free-agent cornerback addition Marcus Cooper are both 27 and expected to start this year.

Not counting Tracy Porter, who was waived, the Bears' next six cornerbacks last year, in terms of playing time, were all 25 or younger, as was Kyle Fuller, who spent the season on injured reserve.

Words of optimism:

Friday's final minicamp practice ends the third off-season program under coach John Fox, who is encouraged by what he has observed.

"We've got way more competition, (even with) guys that were 'starters' before," Fox said. "It's going to be challenging, and that's what you want to build and create. I think we're the furthest along that we've been in our tenure here."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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