Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim called linebacker Jordan Hicks shortly after the NFL draft with news Hicks did not want to hear: Zaven Collins, the team’s first-round pick, was taking Hicks’ starting spot immediately. There would be no competition and there was nothing Hicks could do about it.
The seven-year veteran and team captain did not hide his disappointment. He asked for a trade that never materialized and did not attend any of the Cardinals’ offseason workouts, including mandatory minicamp.
When it became clear Hicks’ situation wasn’t going to change, he got to work and helped the team’s young linebackers — including Collins — as much as he could.
“This is where we’re sitting right now,” Hicks said in July. “Show up every day with a smile on my face and be the best teammate I can be.”
However, the week before the regular season began, Hicks was told the plan had been altered. He was going to be a starter after all.
Seven weeks in, the Cardinals are the only remaining undefeated team in the league and Hicks is a key reason why. He is tied for second on the team in tackles with 44 and is one of only three players to register multiple sacks.
From Week 3 to Week 6, he played every snap for a defense giving up only 16.3 points per game, tied for the fewest in the league. Arizona ranks fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game with 316.7.
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Battling toe and ankle issues, Hicks managed only two tackles in a Week 7 blowout of the Houston Texans, but he did still start the game. He’s started every game he’s played since the 2016 season, including all 16 each of the past two years with Arizona, where he signed a four-year deal as a free agent in March 2019 following four years in Philadelphia.
Selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Texas, Hicks became a regular starter in his second season and helped the Eagles capture their first Super Bowl in 2017. He started the first seven games of the year before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury.
Hicks has not missed a game since joining the Cardinals and posted a combined 268 tackles his first two years in Arizona. Now, despite the frustrating offseason, he once again finds himself anchoring a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Throughout his career, Hicks has expressed his strong faith, calling himself a “Follower of Jesus Christ” on social media. In 2018, Hicks wrote in an article for The Increase that he finds freedom in giving the glory to God.
“Nothing I do is for my own glory or by my own power,” he wrote. “Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve been given and blessed with has come from Him. When we surrender our lives and the things we hold onto or want to take credit for, we become free. When we finally surrender those strongholds, we discover peace.”
Whether his role on the field changes in the future or not, Hicks aims to keep his focus on Christ and let the rest take care of itself.
“For me, when you seek something, you’re putting everything aside and resting in the peace, joy and fulfillment that Christ brings,” he said in a 2018 interview for Football Sunday. “A lot of times, I focus so much on the game that it takes away from my time with Him. When my focus is elsewhere, my time is not being spent with Christ and in the Word. You want to put work into the gifts Christ has given you, but at the same time, you have to make seeking Him first.”
The 7-0 Cardinals host the 6-1 Green Bay Packers on Thursday night to kick off Week 8 of the NFL season. Kickoff from State Farm Stadium is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on FOX.
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