Bucs’ Akiem Hicks Facing Extended Absence

Akiem Hicks could be looking at an IR stint. The Buccaneers defensive lineman suffered a torn plantar fascia, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) he will miss at least a month.

The Bucs still have most of their Super Bowl LV starters on defense, but Hicks joined as a free agent this offseason. He and Logan Ryan represent two experienced veterans now part of Tampa Bay’s talented defense. But the longtime Bears defender will be out of the mix for a while.

The foot injury forced Hicks out of action against the Saints on Sunday; he played 19 defensive snaps. This will mark a third time in four seasons in which an injury will sideline Hicks for an extended period. Groin and ankle maladies shelved the former Pro Bowler last season — a nine-game campaign — while an elbow injury limited Hicks to just five games in 2019.

Tampa Bay has second-round rookie Logan Hall as its likely top Hicks replacement. The team brought back veteran William Gholston and has nose tackle Vita Vea healthy. Hall is not a one-for-one Hicks replacement, however, with the latter weighing north of 330 pounds. In Vea and Hicks, the Bucs had a mammoth interior tandem in place. It will be an adjustment for Todd Bowles‘ defense, though Vea’s presence makes a Hicks absence easier to withstand.

Having allowed just 13 points, the Bucs lead the NFL in scoring defense. They had Hicks ticketed to fill the void created by Ndamukong Suh‘s departure. Suh had been a Bucs starter for three seasons, never missing a game. The team opted to let the All-Decade defensive tackle walk in free agency. Although Suh said he had spoken with Bucs coaches about re-signing, the team pivoted to Hicks on a one-year, $8MM deal ($6.5MM guaranteed). Suh, 34, remains unsigned.

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