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Jordan Hicks playing bigger role in Cardinals defense than initially expected

Mike Florio and Charean Williams play "Which Team Doesn't Belong?" in the NFC East and NFC West as well as with three 2-0 teams that didn't make the postseason last year.

For most of the offseason, Jordan Hicks looked like the odd man out at linebacker for the Cardinals.

Arizona drafted Zaven Collins in the first round and immediately began talking about him starting alongside Isaiah Simmons. Hicks was given permission to seek a trade while all conversation about Collins referenced him as a first-team player right out of the gate.

Hicks went so far as to lament not being able to compete for the starting job during training camp, but the story took a twist heading into the regular season. Hicks started the first two games of the season and has played more defensive snaps -- 120 -- than anyone other than safety Budda Baker while Collins has played 47 snaps.

“I play this game to play it. I want to play. I want to be out there,” Hicks said, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “Honestly, I had no clue what was going to happen coming into training camp. The fact I went to training camp and played well, earned the respect . . . that’s all you want is respect in this league. I know that’s what I play for.”

The Cardinals didn’t draft Collins to keep him on the bench, so roles could change again as the season unfolds. For now, though, the Cardinals are winning and Hicks remains the man in the middle of the defense.