Not too often you find a fourth-year veteran getting emotional during a preseason game.
Not too often you find somebody back on the field just 9½ months after blowing out his Achilles.
Jordan Hicks was the first of the Eagles’ injured guys from 2017 to get back on the field. He started at middle linebacker in the preseason opener Thursday night against the Steelers at the Linc and is on track to start the opener against the Falcons in three weeks.
“Nice to be back and just get six plays and just get on the field and go and get out there and get that speed back,” he said. “It felt great.
“I think it’s huge to get those reps, I think it’s huge to just get back into the swing of things. As soon as I could get back out on the field, I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity. It’s been too long.”
And even though he only played six snaps — the first-team defense got two 3-and-outs before calling it a day — it was a huge six snaps for Hicks.
“It was emotional,” he said. “Just the last time I was in pads was in the locker room still padded up being told my season was over.
“You sit and think about all the things that go into coming back from an injury, all the hard work, all the early mornings, the times it sucks, you can’t walk, family and friends have to wait on you hand and foot.
“It affects us all and just reflecting on all the people that helped me get back and getting back to that point.”
The first-team defense only allowed two yards in two series to a collection of mainly Steelers backups.
Hicks looked like his old self.
"Played really well,” Doug Pederson said. “He's smart, intelligent, he runs well. There were really no signs of injury. Just keep knocking on wood things go well. Happy to see him back out on the team."
Presumably, Hicks and the starters will play more against the Patriots Thursday night in Foxboro, Massachusetts, but it was an auspicious start.
“It actually felt like I hadn’t left,” Hicks said. “It really felt normal. Kind of slow. As much as I’ve been out, I feel like I’ve picked up right where I left off. … Getting out there and feeling confident and getting that confidence back was nice.”
Hicks blew out his Achilles on Oct. 23 during a game against the Redskins at the Linc.
It was his second season-ending injury in three NFL seasons.
The other guys who missed the Super Bowl run — Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos — are all in various stages of rehab.
Hicks is quietly all the way back and has been for a while.
"He was in the building every single day last year," Pederson said. "He saw what the team did and he's hungry to get back out on the football field.”
How did he get this far this fast?
“I worked,” he said. “Hard work. Guys around me. I’ve been blessed to have a great group of guys and be a part of this team and this organization, and I was encouraged every day by guys like (Jason Peters) and Carson and Sproles. We did that stuff together.”
Hicks has seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, two sacks and five fumble recoveries in 31 NFL games.
It’s incredible production and unprecedented for a linebacker in his first three seasons.
But bring up Hicks’ name and the first thing you think of is injuries. He missed the last eight games of 2015 with a torn pec and the last nine games of last year plus the postseason with the blown out Achilles.
“It’s freaking annoying, man,” Hicks said. “It is the worst feeling. It is the worst feeling.
“To me, the biggest disappointment in the whole thing is you feel like you let your team down. When you play such a big role on the defense, on the team, and you get hurt, you can’t be in that role anymore and you feel like you let your team down.
“And that’s the hardest part, knowing guys are defending on you constantly. I’m over it. Oh yeah. I can’t tell you enough.”