“We’re Gonna Get To It” – JoeBucsFan.com – Tampa Bay Bucs Blog, Buccaneers News

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

After six years of hard labor, he’s been sprung from the Windy City — where NFL careers go to die.

Now Akiem Hicks looks around One Buc Place and sees possibilities. He sees talent. He sees lots of wins. If all goes according to plan, this could be a marriage vow made in football heaven.

The new and former Pro Bowl beast on the Bucs’ defensive line, Akiem Hicks.

“It’s been great, nice and hot,” Hicks says a month into training camp. “All the guys have been very welcoming and that’s what you expect at this level, for guys to understand there’s a period of transition and you try to make guys as comfortable as they can be. That’s what I’ve received here. As far as guys having a winning mentality, that’s an added bonus. These are guys that want to play the game and are good at the game.”

This is the fourth NFL stop for Hicks, who turns 33 in November. As a free-agent addition, he is replacing Ndamukong Suh with a different skill set and the same marauding approach. Former Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams admires the physicality.

“The power he plays with can overwhelm guys,” Williams said in 2019, when Hicks was voted the No. 39 player in the league by his peers.

That honor came after Hicks and Khalil Mack led the 2018 Bears to a 12-4 record. Hicks played all 16 games for the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense that year, leading Chicago’s defensive linemen in tackles and finishing second to Mack in sacks and QB hits.

That season proved to be an outlier for Hicks, his only winning year in Chicago.

He was eventually beaten down by injuries and an inept offense as Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Chase Daniel, Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and Justin Fields took turns misfiring under center.

That depressing quarterback carousel has stopped for Hicks, courtesy of Tom Brady.

“There’s a great deal of talent here,” says Hicks, who hinted that his June 1 signing with Tampa Bay was in the works for quite a while.

“Coming here was a calculated move, not just on my part but on the Bucs part, putting me in a good position with a lot of good guys around the team, giving me a chance for success,” he says. “That’s always a pleasure and always something you should be appreciative of because not every season goes the same way.”

Handpicked by Todd Bowles.

Todd Bowles targeted Hicks in free agency, deeming him an attractive fit for his aggressive scheme.

“He’s not just a big guy,” Bowles said. “He can move and he’s highly intelligent for a defensive lineman. I’ve always been a fan of his. He can get off the ball, he can move and he plays with a mean streak.”

Hicks has played in both 3-man and 4-man fronts since breaking into the NFL with the 2012 Saints. He’s eager to plant his 6-foot-5, 325-pound frame next to Vita Vea and create havoc inside.

“Vita Vea … oh wow,” Hicks says. “I watched him before I came here, how he plays with such power and athleticism for his size. It’s something to behold and it’s something that will be a great pleasure to play besides. Right now, I’m making sure I have the defense down pat so I can play at a high level.”

The first real test for Hicks comes Week 1 in Dallas, where Ezekiel Elliott and perennial All-Pro guard Zack Martin will be waiting.

“We’re gonna get to it,” says Hicks. “There’s gonna be some good shows out there.”

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This content was originally published here.

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