Jordan Hicks is Excited About His Christmas Present
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - For Jordan Hicks, it's not about what he's getting this Christmas it's what he's getting rid of.
The Eagles' star middle linebacker is one of a number of high-profile players lost to season-ending injuries in 2017 after tearing his right Achilles' on Oct. 23 against Washington.
Surgery soon followed and on Christmas Day, a little over two months since the injury, Hicks, 25, will get to trash the walking boot on his right foot.
"Real good present, right?" Hicks told reporters at the NovaCare Complex on Friday, the first time he has spoken since the injury.
Hicks is already convinced that he will be able to recover and pick up where he left off as one of the NFL's best young linebackers, partially because he knew what to expect from the rehabilitation process from tearing his left Achilles' in college at the University of Texas.
"I'll be fine," he insisted. "I did my left Achilles in college and came back better. I know more, the advancements are better. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be a better player when I come back."
The typical recovery time for an Achilles' tear is six to nine months, the former would be April around draft time and the latter of which would have Hicks at full speed by July, just in time for training camp.
Common sense says the Eagles will be careful with Hicks during offseason work to make sure he's a full go for camp.
For a comparison, Philadelphia rookie cornerback Sidney Jones tore his Achilles on March 22 and was back on the practice field this week, nine months after the injury.
Hicks admitted that playing through a balky left ankle probably contributed to his Achilles' giving out on him as he was in pass coverage on Jordan Reed during the second play of the Redskins' game. The ankle issue led to a calf problem in his right league before the Achilles'
"I think a couple weeks could have helped me," Hicks admitted in hindsight. "But it's always easy to look back. Hindsight is 20/20. I wouldn't change anything just because it's my personality."
The Eagles' defense has persevered without its on-field leader but not without some significant tinkering.
With Hicks around, the base defense featured him in the middle with Nigel Bradham at the SAM position and Mychal Kendricks on the weak side. When things shifted to nickel, Hicks and Bradham were the three-down linebackers.
Since the injury, the major tweak has come in the nickel where Bradham had slid into Hicks' typical role and Kendricks has taken over Bradham's original responsibilities. In the base, Joe Walker has stepped in for Hicks but has missed the past two contests with a neck injury and Najee Goode stepped in. Through all of that Bradham has the green dot on his helmet and communicates with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
That's a lot of moving parts for one player but it also speaks to just how important Hicks is as the QB of the defense.
And Schwartz has been a concerted effort to keep Hicks feeling involved during his rehab by instructing him to watch the upcoming opponent's film and become sort of a pseudo-blitz coach during the week.
"It's easy to isolate yourself in situations like this," Hicks said. "For him to come up to me and ask me to do that was big. I try to keep guys' spirits up and share my perspective."
A perspective that will be back in 2018.
"It's never easy to go through something like this," Hicks admitted. "It tests your patience, this tests your character. You learn a lot through these times because it is so difficult. You have to really grind through some hard times. Put your head down and I think your character is really shown through."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen