After linebacker Joe Walker was lost for the season with an ACL injury, it was clear the Eagles were going to need some additional help at the linebacker position. That's why it was no surprise to anyone, including the players currently in the locker room, when head coach Doug Pederson announced the team had agreed to terms with veteran Stephen Tulloch on Monday.
"I knew something was coming," Jordan Hicks said later that day. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand what's about to happen, so I'm excited. I'm excited. I want this team to be as good as we possibly can and I think adding another veteran presence and another linebacker to our corps and having that type of depth and being able to move around and have another aspect to it will help a lot."
Only being a second-year player himself, there is a lot of pressure on Hicks to take command of the defense this season as the team's starting middle linebacker.
He's more than ready for the challenge but is still prepared to learn from his new teammate, who has an abundance of experience in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's system. Tulloch played for the coach in both Tennessee and Detroit.
"It's definitely a really good addition to the team, to this defense, to the linebacker corps," Hicks said. "A guy who's played a long time, played in Coach Schwartz's defense and understands what it takes. I'm excited to learn from him and excited to finally meet him."
The Eagles announced on Monday that they agreed to terms with linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Learn more about the NFL veteran and what he brings to the organization.
Because Tulloch has amassed 112 starts throughout his NFL career, the coaching staff expects him to come to Philadelphia and compete for the starting middle linebacker spot. As of now, Hicks said it was reiterated that he is the starter, but he isn't ruling out the possibility that this signing could lead to a shuffle among the linebackers.
However, Hicks has college experience at all three linebacker positions and isn't worried about a possible switch. At Texas, his first position was at weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He feels confident no matter where he is on the field.
Mychal Kendricks agreed that there is now the possibility for changes to take place, but just as Hicks believes, he feels the addition of Tulloch is one that will ultimately make the group stronger.
"There could be some changes for sure," Kendricks said. "I know it's a good thing. A guy who can come in and add to the team only adds value."
In the end, the competition that goes hand in hand with Tulloch joining the roster will only benefit the position group because the linebackers will have to work that much harder to win the starting jobs. Schwartz will put the best players on the field each Sunday and they will do whatever it takes to help the Eagles win.
"It pushes everybody," Hicks said. "It always makes you rise to the occasion and find what you're made of and I expect that to happen."