With Hicks Out, Focus Shifts Back To Original Three

Billy Davis didn’t sugarcoat it.

“It’s a big hit,” he said of the loss of Jordan Hicks. “It’s a shame that it happened. But as soon as I saw the nature of the injury, I’ve seen enough of them, been around enough — especially having a background in linebacker coaching — kind of had an idea that’s what happened.

“Jordan did a great job of bringing himself into the conversation of a main rotation guy…It’s a shame that he only made it halfway through the season, but in the NFL it’s a bad part of what we deal with. Jordan will get everything fixed and then we’ll move on and we’re back to the guys that we originally started with, and they go day-to-day.”

That’s the term he used to describe DeMeco Ryans, who continues to work through a hamstring strain. He had his helmet on but was working off to the side with a trainer at the start of Tuesday’s practice. Ryans deemed it a two-to-three week injury. He’s missed two games so far. Adding in the bye week, he’s around the point of his projected return.

In his absence, the defense yielded 4.6 yards per carry against the Cowboys and 6.8 yards per rush to Carolina. The unit was averaging 3.5 yards per rush before Ryans went down. Davis did not want to connect the two, but there’s no question that his absence was felt, and it becomes all the more important that he stays healthy now that Hicks is lost for the season with a torn pec.

Kiko Alonso (knee) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) are both back from injury. Alonso showed some rust in his return Sunday. Davis indicated that they will continue to ease him back in, and said he believes it usually takes two-to-three weeks for a player to round into form.

Jason Peters, Malcolm Jenkins and Jerome Couplin were also sidelined Tuesday. Jenkins is the only real surprise name out of that group, as he did not come out of the Dallas game and there hadn’t been any previous word of an injury.

The defense, meanwhile, moves on without Hicks, who made a real, unexpected  impression in a short amount of time.

“It’s a shame for Jordan because he really was coming along strong,” said Davis, “and I think he would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate without question.”