A little over two weeks ago, the Eagles placed rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks on Injured Reserve. He may not be playing on the field every Sunday, or on Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean he hasn't remained hard at work.
"I love football. Whether I'm playing or not, it's something that I love to do, love to be a part of," Hicks said on the Eagles Insider Podcast. "Being part of a team, this whole environment here is huge. It keeps you positive being around this. It keeps you motivated to push to get back to where you were and to get better during this time. It's been huge for me. It's more mental now, so I'm taking notes, still studying film, still doing everything like I'm playing the game."
Before his pectoral injury, Hicks was a tremendous force for the Eagles' defense. The rookie recorded 54 tackles, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one of which he returned 67 yards for a touchdown.
Prior to the start of the season, the linebacker was behind Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans on the depth chart, but he prepared for every game as if he would be a starter. He knew at one point or another, it would be his time to step up. He just didn't know it would be as early as Week 2.
"You never know when your opportunity is going to come," he said. "I had no clue. I was focused on special teams. I was thinking I was going to be a four-core teams guy. As soon as my number was called, I felt like that opportunity, that mindset that I had, nothing was going to hold me back from making the most of this opportunity. That's what I did."
Now, Hicks is focused on his recovery. He's had injuries in the past, ones that were far worse than what he's dealing with now. The linebacker is confident that come 2016, he'll be back and stronger than ever.
"I've had an Achilles and that was rough. I was in a bad place mentally, a bad place physically, just completely tore me down," Hicks said. "I was able to bounce back, have a great season my senior year and come in here and do what I did this year. It's encouraging to see that and it just gives me the mindset that this is so easy compared to everything that I've been through. You've got to be crazy to think this is going to stop me."
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell take an in-depth look at the All-22 tape from the previous game, explaining what techniques did and did not work for the Eagles. In this week's Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two talked about the state of the team after a tough Sunday loss to Tampa Bay.
With the Thanksgiving game just days after its last outing, Philadelphia will need to regroup, refocus and put everything it has into the matchup with the Lions.
"Overall, this is obviously going to be a very tough test and I've said this a couple times. It's a very tough test not necessarily ... to me in my mind, it's not as much about the coaches and the game plan this week against Detroit. It's more the guys in the locker room," Duffy said. "How are they going to respond after seeing what they put on tape on Sunday? Can they all look each other in the eye and say, 'OK. We have to get this thing turned around and put our best effort out on the field on Thursday?'"
When it comes time to play, the team will be going up against the eighth-best passing offense in the NFL, which is in large part due to the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford has thrown for 2,607 yards this season, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns. However, he's also recorded 12 interceptions, which Cosell highlights. Those turnovers are part of the reason why the Lions have the worst turnover differential in the league (-10).
"You walk a fine line with quarterbacks like Stafford," Cosell explained. "From the time he was in high school going to Georgia, people said he's going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft because he was such a tremendous arm talent, which he still is. Of course he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He's got a certain mentality, which he's probably had ever since he started throwing a ball because I'm sure from the time he was 8 years old, no one threw a ball like Matthew Stafford in his community.
"You walk a really fine line from channeling his outstanding ability to deliver a football but then taking away from the fact that you don't want him to play cautious. Many times he's crossed the line into the bad part where he forces balls, he tries to make throws that are not there, he throws with bad technique and poor discipline."
Later on in the podcast, Duffy moves into the 2-technique segment. He met with Eagles Hall of Fame wide receiver Mike Quick to discuss the way to beat press coverage. Then he finishes the episode by breaking down some of the big matchups in this week of college football.
On a new episode of the Journey to the Draft Podcast, Alex Smith and Fran Duffy recapped last weekend's college football games and highlighted six potential sleepers in the 2016 NFL Draft as part of their Pick Six feature. After talking about general draft buzz for the first 27 minutes of the podcast, the two talked at length about the following six players:
QB Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Possessing fantastic size at 6-6, 240 pounds and a strong arm, Nate Sudfeld is an intriguing prospect. A traditional pocket passer, the senior quarterback has thrown for 2,834 yards with a 60.5 percent completion rate and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions this year. He's coming off a 385-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 47-28 win over Maryland last week and is projected to be a late-round prospect.
TE Ryan Malleck, Virginia Tech
A native of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, Ryan Malleck has a strong build for the tight end position (6-5, 252 pounds) and has value as a blocker. The redshirt senior has caught 18 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
OL Max Tuerk, USC
At 6-5, 285 pounds, Max Tuerk is incredibly quick on his feet from the center position despite being very strong at the point of attack. The senior was considered one of the better centers in this year's class until he was lost for the season with a knee injury earlier this year. Still, he's a prospect to keep an eye on as the draft approaches.
DT Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
Senior defensive tackle Adam Gotsis is another player with a season-ending knee injury that could hurt his stock heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. He first caught the attention of pro scouts as a sophomore, when he tallied 38 tackles, 14.5 of which came for loss, to go along with 5.5 sacks. As a junior, those numbers took a hit, with him finishing with 36 tackles (6.5 for loss) and three sacks, and through seven games this year before his injury he'd tallied 31 tackles (five for loss) and three sacks.
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota
A former junior college transfer, Briean Boddy-Calhoun emerged as one of the best defensive playmakers in the Big Ten last season, intercepting five passes and deflecting nine more. But as a senior, he's notched just two picks and two passes defensed. He's considered a middle-round prospect, but could rise closer to the draft because of the 5-10 corner's impressive athleticism.
CB Justin Burris, N.C. State
Blessed with good size (6-1, 207 pounds) and length for the cornerback position, Justin Burris is another prospect who could rise with a strong performance in the East-West Shrine Game and at the NFL Scouting Combine.