TAMPA BAY – When the Buccaneers signed Akiem Hicks, many assumed he’d take over for Ndamukong Suh, which is completely logical.
Both players are very similar in regard to what they do on the field and how they fit in the Buccaneers defense. Hicks is a former Pro Bowler who has shown that he can produce at a high level in the NFL. Therefore, it was widely suspected/assumed he’d play a large role in Tampa Bay. Especially when considering Hicks’ salary.
“He’s a big man, we expect him to what he did in Chicago,” Todd Bowles told reporters Tuesday. “Obviously he’s a physical presence up front. He can push the pocket. And, he has a variety of pass rush moves, as well.
“So, we just look for him to blend in with the guys and help us get better.”
However, it wasn’t a 100% guarantee. Mainly because of Logan Hall’s presence. Hall is also expected to a big contributor in 2022 and he’s considered to be a future foundational piece for the Buccaneers defense.
Bowles commented on Hicks’ role with the Buccaneers and confirmed what most thought from the beginning.
“He’ll in step in and play as soon as he gets the playbook down,” said Bowles. “We’ll see how many reps [he gets]. “It all depends on the game, whether it’s no-huddle, whether it’s a long drive, or anything like that. I don’t know the percentage, yet, but he’ll play a lot.”
Suh played over 2,300 snaps that averaged out to 71% of defensive snaps during his three years with the Buccaneers.
Meaning, there are a lot of reps to replace.
Hicks was brought in to do just that. Granted, it will be interesting to see if he can stay healthy to the point where he can play a full season for the first time since 2018, his Pro Bowl season. That’s easily the biggest risk with Hicks: whether or not he can stay healthy.
If he does stay healthy, he will certainly factor into this defense and will certainly play a big role.
But also, don’t count out Logan Hall, just yet. Bowles left the door open when asked if Hicks and Hall will be co-starters, or what.
“Training camp will determine who’s starting down there,” he said.
Either way, Hicks will be involved with the Buccaneers defense and he’ll be involved in a big way, per Bowles. Which confirms what many thought from the start.
Featured image via Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports