The eyes of Texas always still seem to be on Jordan Hicks, the former University of Texas standout linebacker who was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.
Especially when he lines up against the Dallas Cowboys.
Nobody in Austin ever let him forget that in his NFL debut at Lincoln Financial Field last season , it was his sack of Tony Romo that broke Romo’s collarbone and essentially wrecked the Cowboys season. They likely forget that seven weeks later in Dallas, moments after his 67-yard interception return for a touchdown off Matt Cassell, Hicks tore his pectoral muscle, prematurely ending his season.
So the 6-foot-1, 236-pound Hicks had a lot to prove in his second season.
For the most part, he did for the 7-9 Eagles
In Sunday’s 27-13 win over Dallas, Hicks had two interceptions and led the team with five tackles.
While Hicks has remained consistent, the Eagles have been the proverbial roller-coaster team.
They started off winning their first three. They ended by winning their last two,including Sunday’s 27-13 decision over a playoff-bound Cowboys’ team that used three quarterbacks and backups most of the way.
In between, though, the Eagles unraveled, going 2-9.
Which leaves a taste Hicks describes as “bittersweet.”
“We understand where we are,” said Hicks, who intercepted former teammate Mark Sanchez twice to give him four career interceptions off Dallas. “We’re nowhere close to where we want to be.
“But I’m optimistic at the same time, knowing we have a team on the brink. With a few pieces, a few plays, we could be right there instead of going home. It’s just a matter of execution.”
Hicks drew praise from teammates.
“He’s been a difference-maker since he’s been here,” said veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins. “Even last year, he was a difference-maker until he got hurt.
“The game’s slowing down for him. He makes the big plays, with takeaways and all that. With his command of the defense, it’s been fun watching him mature.”
Hicks finished this season with five interceptions.
“When the quarterback throws you the ball, you’re expected to catch it,” Hicks said.
The Cowboys played Romo for one series in the second quarter. Dak Prescott started and Sanchez followed Romo to close out the game.
“ I was honestly happy to see him out there,” Hicks said of Romo. “Everybody makes that play (the 2015 Romo injury) to be something.
“I never wish any type of injury upon a player, so I was happy to see he’s back healthy, out there contributing and putting together a good drive. People have asked me a lot about that play. I understand. It’s Tony and Tony plays for the Dallas Cowboys and they’re our rivals. It is what it is, but at the end of the day I was happy to see him out there.”