Jordan Hicks Healthy And Ready To Lead
Jordan Hicks noted that there is a “different vibe” around NovaCare without the presence of DeMeco Ryans.
The veteran linebacker’s play may have fallen off due to age and injury last year but his status as the alpha male in that locker room was undeniable. He was the calming voice amid the chaos on the field, and the one that the young pups — like Hicks — took their cues from.
With Ryans gone, there is a void in the middle of the defense both physically and from a leadership perspective, one that the second-year ‘backer plans to occupy. His mentor has encouraged him to do so. Hicks texted Ryans as soon as he received word of Ryans’ release, and got the following message in return:
“‘Don’t be afraid to speak up. The guys respect you. You’ve proven yourself. You have to step into that role and you can’t be afraid to speak up.’ That was his piece of advice and it stuck with me,” said Hicks, “and it’s held true. And that’s the leadership role I’m trying to emerge into.”
Even at 23 years old?
“Absolutely. Why not? If you’ve got respect and you’re a leader on the team…somebody’s got to do it, right? Obviously we’ve got a lot of guys who are leaders and have established themselves in this league and on this team. So I know my place, but it’s that balance. You’ve gotta have a voice for the young guys, for sure.”
Hicks has recovered from the torn pec he suffered against the Cowboys last November, he said, and plans to be a full participant come OTAs.
“At this point it’s just a matter of strengthening it back. It’s as sturdy as it will ever be. I feel great.”
When he does re-take the field this spring, it will be at middle linebacker. Hicks was told during positional meetings that MIKE will be his primary position (and WILL his secondary position) with Nigel Bradham manning the strong side and Mychal Kendricks the weak side.
“I think it’s the ability to communicate, the ability to understand defense,” said Hicks, when asked why he is a fit for the middle. “I’ve always been one when I’m on the field to take control, naturally. It’s just the position I’ve always put myself in and feel comfortable taking on. Being able to direct traffic and get everything right, put the pieces together and solve the puzzle. I think that MIKE spot you’ve gotta be able to do that, come down hill and hit, play sideline to sideline. I think I can do all of those.”
Hicks has taken to Jim Schwartz and the new defense. Says that the terminology is actually similar to what Texas was using his sophomore and junior year, which should help with the transition.
He’ll be making that transition without the guidance of Ryans, but feels he is ready to set off on his own now.
“Especially coming into my second year, he’s somebody who you really miss,” said Hicks. “But moving forward, it’s exciting to be stepping into this role. I have big shoes to fill with him and a leadership role that I’ve got to take on, but it’s cool.”