The body of Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks is like a treasure hunt to all the surgeries he’s had in his career.
There’s the jagged line etched across his upper left chest leading toward the shoulder.
“That’s from my pec surgery as a rookie,” said Hicks following Wednesday’s practice as the Eagles prepare to play the Dallas Cowboys for the 115th time overall in the regular season.
Hicks then showed off his right hand, the one he injured in a poolside fall on his honeymoon in Greece. He then hiked up the cuffs of both pant legs, one at a time, to show the scars of two Achilles surgeries.
“I’ve had groin surgeries, too,” said Hicks.
The knock on the Eagles linebacker has been injuries, but that is the nature of the football business. Don’t look now, though, but Hicks has played all 508 defensive snaps this season.
“Honestly, that’s my standard,” said Hicks. “There’s obviously a lot of talk about my health and all these things, but playing 100 percent of the snaps is my standard. I don’t necessarily see it as an accomplishment. I don’t necessarily see it as something to get all excited about. I see it as that’s what I’m expected to do. What I do think is disappointing is that I haven’t been able to do that the past four years because that’s what I expect from myself.”
Hicks' 2015 rookie season was cut short after eight games with a pec tear against the Cowboys in Arlington. It was in the same game where he had a pick-six interception. Last year, his season also ended after eight games, this time with an Achilles tear.
In 2016, though, Hicks played in 95 percent of the team’s snaps.
So far, he has been able to answer the call, play in and play out.
“I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about my body,” he said. “I know what works for my body, I know what doesn’t. It’s just constantly staying on top of it, whether it’s eating right, and that’s probably first and foremost, you have to eat right. If you don’t fuel your body the correct way you won’t be able to run on Sundays.
“Then secondly, whether it’s massage, whether it’s tubs, whether it’s acupuncture, different things, seeing different doctors, it’s a combination of a lot of things. You’ve got your consistent things you do throughout the week, but every week is different.”
Does he feel like he’s gotten a bad rap for not being healthy enough?
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “Honestly, I try not to get too caught up in it. I played 100 percent of the snaps this year, so those who have comments …”
His words trailed off, but, the fact is, Hicks is a valuable member of this defense, a key piece that they could lose once the season is over because Hicks’ rookie contract expires at season’s end.
There are plenty of offseason priorities for the Eagles, but re-signing Hicks should be at the top of the list.
He is just 26 years-old and right now leads the team in tackles with 67 after making a career-high 13 of them against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. He has produced a career-high in sacks with three, and is always around the ball. In 2016, he led the team in interceptions with five. As a rookie, despite playing just eight games, he recovered three fumbles.
“Honestly, I really have tried to minimize my thoughts on it,” he said about the looming contract situation. “At the end of the day, when you play well, your demand goes up. When you play well, everything falls in place, so that’s really where my focus is. I can sit here and say it’s a big year, this or that, and it is, but at the end of the day, when you focus on the correct things everything falls into place.
“I know my agent is handling all of that with upstairs (in the Eagles’ front office), but personally I tried to stay out of it, because my focus needs to be on this team. My focus needs to be on my play and how we can get as many wins as possible.”