FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots and Chicago Bears squared off Tuesday in their second of three joint practices, and no player looked more excited to be there than Akiem Hicks.
Hicks, who spent most of last season in New England before signing with Chicago in March, was a bundle of energy during the hot and humid practice session, peppering the Patriots’ offense with trash talk and frequently whooping it up with his fellow Bears defensive lineman during full-team drills.
“I was excited,” Hicks said after practice. “I get excited pretty easily. But I think that’s part of the position of a defensive lineman. You’ve got to be able to bring the juice.”
Monday’s joint practice featured a great deal of after-the-whistle shenanigans, and Tuesday’s offered more of the same, albeit on a slightly lesser scale. The Bears, who have scrapped amongst themselves on several occasions this summer, tended to be the instigators in these situations, but Hicks said that was not their intention.
“I don’t think there was a plan to try to come in and be extra animated,” said Hicks, who swatted down a Jimmy Garoppolo pass during 11-on-11 drills. “It was moreso just to play harder than we did (Monday) and play a little bit better. There’s a lot of things that we want to fix and things we need to get better at, and that’s what this practice was for.”
Hicks began last season with the New Orleans Saints before being traded to the Patriots in late September. The 26-year-old played in New England’s final 13 games, totaling 21 tackles, three sacks and one fumble recovery.
“I have a great deal of respect for this organization and how I was brought in at the beginning of the season without training camp, and how they got me acclimated to the system and being able to play,” Hicks said. “I think the organization of this team is something that every team in the NFL can emulate.”
Some additional notes from Tuesday:
— Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, who earlier this summer criticized Bears quarterback and former teammate Jay Cutler, declined to speak with the media after practice.
— One of the most heated roster battles in Patriots camp is at center, as Bryan Stork and David Andrews are duking it out for the starting job.
“I’m still just trying to go out there and earn a spot, so I guess in that respect, it’s the same thing (as last summer),” said Andrews, who started 11 games as a rookie last season. “There’s no guarantees in this league, so I’m just going out there trying to earn a spot, do whatever I can to help the team.”
Stork didn’t help his own cause Tuesday, earning himself an ejection for fighting with several Bears defenders after a play in 11-on-11s.
Asked about the incident after practice, Andrews said he had “no reaction.”
“What happens, happens,” he said. “… We were just out there playing football.”
— Patriots coach Bill Belichick again chose not to reveal much when asked about how he plans to divvy up quarterback reps for the rest of the preseason. He did, however, say getting interim starter Jimmy Garoppolo ready for Week 1 “is the priority.”
“Again, I don’t have anything to add to what I’ve already said,” Belichick said. “They’re all important. We’re trying to get them all ready. Jimmy is the priority, but everybody’s important.”
Thumbnail photo via Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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