After ranking 10th in the NFL last season, the Chicago Bears’ defense has established a fairly lofty standard for itself.

Akiem Hicks, a defensive end for the Bears the past two years, believes the unit not only can play up to that level again this season, but also show improvement.

‘Vic (Fangio) has done a great job of showing us where we miss-stepped and things we can improve on’

He credits defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with identifying the areas where the Bears’ D can make strides, something on which it has been working diligently during training camp.

“There’s a super-high expectation,” Hicks told Jim Miller and Jeff Joniak during the SiriusXM training-camp tour stop in Bourbonnais, Ill. “Finishing top 10, that was a great achievement for our defense. But when you go back and you look over the tape, and Vic has done a great job of showing us where we miss-stepped and things we can improve on and just sharpen our tools a little bit more. When you go back and look at those areas, you say, ‘Darn! I could have made that one more play and that would have put us in a better position and maybe even changed the outcome of a game or two.’

‘We want to take the things that we didn’t do well and just make those a little bit better’

“We’re not going to say that we’re going to be the most perfect, flawless defense to ever play the game. But what we’re saying is we want to take the things that we didn’t do as well and just make those a little bit better and take the things that we did really well and take those through the roof.”

Hicks, who has 15.5 sacks since joining the Bears in 2016 after one season with the New England Patriots and four with the New Orleans Saints, sees continuity has being a “huge benefit” to his current defense.

‘It’s an amazing thing to be able to go into your year and be able to say, ‘You know, I’ve been doing the same thing or just a little bit modified, for the past two years.”

“This is my first time being in a defense for the third year, and that’s seven years in the NFL,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing to be able to go into your year and be able to say, ‘You know, I’ve been doing the same thing or just a little bit modified, for the past two years.’ And you’re able to take that and you’re able to bring back and call on those memories of how this play worked. And then you can even see the weaknesses of the play where you felt like, ‘OK, man, if I had just stepped a little bit harder and I got this set, I can make a sack or make a tackle or just help my team.'”

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