The team is three days away from heading west for the first of two trips to Los Angeles. Yep, the Eagles are flying cross-country on Saturday for their Sunday game against the Chargers. Head coach Doug Pederson plans on keeping his players' bodies and routines on an East Coast schedule. But if you asked Jordan Hicks, the time difference is simply a distraction.
"I think going out there you get caught up in it. I think you make it a bigger deal than it is, to be honest with you. Guys start waking up at different times and this and that and they make it a bigger deal than it has to be. At the end of the day you're going out there and playing football," Hicks said after Wednesday's practice.
"To me, it shouldn't be an excuse. Obviously, it has its effect but at the end of the day it's about reading keys and playing football and that's what we get paid to do."
The Eagles can't afford to get caught up in logistics when they touchdown in L.A. They face yet another winless squad in the Chargers who are hungry for a win. The Eagles managed to outlast a desperate Giants team last Sunday and this time they'll face a team that's lost twice by 3 points or fewer.
"Every team in this league is good and you think about the Chargers, obviously they're 0-3, but every single game that they've lost they've had chances to go up late or to win the game," Hicks said. "They're a very dangerous team and I think it's perspective. I think you have a mentality every week that any given moment the play you're in currently can be the difference in the game and you've just got to continue to prepare the same way to go out there and just play football."
From a mental standpoint, the Eagles' defense has been tough rallying through injuries. Hicks was one of two starters on defense to go down in Sunday's game. His departure, along with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's exit, left an already depleted defense even thinner. But as the Eagles have done all season, the next man stepped up.
"It's awesome to see. That's what great teams have is depth. Injuries are going to happen in this game and when your guys a little bit further down the line can come in and make big plays for you, I think about Joe Walker making that fourth-down stop, coming in and playing well. Obviously, Nigel (Bradham). Linebackers having to move around and be in positions where they're unfamiliar. When you have a team that can do that and you have guys that can do that. It can make up for a lot of errors. It can make up a lot of room for just missing guys due to injury," Hicks said.
Fortunately, Hicks was a full-go for Wednesday's practice. Ideally, Cox and the other sidelined defensive backs will be healthy against the Chargers as well. Regardless, the team can ill-afford a lack of focus following their late-game, team-rallying win against the Giants. It was in those crucial moments last year where a loss of focus cost the Eagles several close games.
"I think it's a mentality. I think we're more mature. Obviously, those situations have benefited us now. Obviously, they were terrible to go through but we learned," Hicks said. "Coach Pederson said we were learning through those situations, not just getting away with losing games and coming away with just thinking it was whatever. We analyzed the fact that we had chances to win a lot of the games last year and we didn't get it done so I think it's a mindset that we've gone into every game with. Just gritty, tough, smash-mouth, just fight to the end. That's this city. That's who we want to be."