Jordan Hicks Put Focus on His First Playoff Game
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Jordan Hicks already has a Super Bowl ring but Sunday will mark his first NFL playoff game as an active participant and the fourth-year linebacker is excited to ply his craft against dynamic Bears back Tarik Cohen.
A pending free agent after the season Hicks' first four years in Philadelphia have been a bit star-crossed, a playmaker on the field but too often off of it with pec and Achilles injuries taking large chunks of his rookie and third-year campaigns, the latter in which the Eagles persevered to win Super Bowl LII.
Overall Hicks has sat out 24 of a possible 67 games [including playoffs] for the Eagles. This season a calf injury cost Hicks a month late in the campaign but the Texas product is back and wasn't even listed on the injury report Friday, the first time that been the case in almost two months.
“It's pretty special, knowing everything I’ve battled through, and this team has battled through, to get to this point," Hicks admitted at his locker on Friday. "Specifically me, coming off last year, coming off this injury here, it’s going to be very special to be playing this week."
Hicks was part of a long list of key Eagles contributors who weren't able to partake and the playoff run last season, joining names like Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos.
Wentz highlights that list again which now includes players like Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. Hicks, though, gets his shot at redemption.
“You watched this team do something last year, do something that had never been done, and do something extremely special. And you just wanted to be a part of it in every way that you possibly could," Hicks explained. "Obviously, us injured guys couldn’t. To not have that opportunity, and to actually have it now –- you never know when this opportunity’s going to come around again. ... to have this opportunity is special.”
Hicks injury hurdle this time came on Nov. 18 in New Orleans and was labeled a six-week thing by doctors but Hicks set a goal to be back in four weeks and did just that.
Since he's been back, however, Hicks has taken on a bit of a reduced role with Nigel Bradham staying as the only three-down LB, something which could change in Chicago because Hicks is regarded as Philadelphia's best coverage LB and Cohen, a RB in the mold of Sproles, is Chicago's most dangerous offensive threat.
On Friday the Eagles had both Donnel Pumphrey and Boston Scott taking turns playing Cohen at practice with special attention toward wheel routes.
“I’d played every snap up to [the injury]. I was taking a lot of pride in that,” Hicks said. “I felt like I was playing well. ...At the end of the day, this team got it done. It’s not about any one person, it’s about this team.”
A team in which Hicks could conceivably be playing his last game for on Sunday, something Hicks is refusing to think about just yet.
"The moment I start focusing on something else, I’m wrong,” said Hicks. "... “Obviously the focus is on this game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen