LB Jordan Hicks (3.14.24)

So, what was attractive about signing with the Browns?

“Yeah. First and foremost, what the defense and this team was able to do last year and the historic nature of that. I know guys like Rodney McLeod, I know guys like Dalvin Tomlinson, Za’Darius (Smith). I have followed their careers and obviously got to play with them personally. And just watching them, talking to them, obviously, is a huge part of free agency and just understanding different situations. And then you look at Jim Schwartz and the ability to get back to playing with him, you know, having success with him in Philly and then watching his success here. I think with the opening at linebacker and the talent that this group has and this organization has, I think it’s a recipe for something special.”


Hi, Jordan. We just got word, some of us just reported that Devin Bush has signed with the Browns. So just wondering, have you gotten a chance to kind of talk to him a little bit today, get excited? And what do you guys think that now you’re going to have with you, Devin and JOK (Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah)?

“Well, I have not gotten to talk to him and wasn’t 100% aware of that. So obviously, if that’s the case, that’s exciting news. But you look at JOK and his natural ability. I mean, he’s all over the field. I’ve watched him for years now. Got a ton of respect for his game, and obviously, have played against and competed against Devin Bush multiple times. So got a lot of respect for those guys, excited to get in the room and get back established, get back to playing football, because that’s what we do this for.”


How dynamic do you think that linebacking core can be with you three guys in there leading the way?

“Yeah, extremely. Extremely. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. Obviously, you got to earn it day in and day out. But I think if a group like that wants it bad enough, you can be as good as you want.”

Hey, Jordan. Welcome to Cleveland. A little more on Jim Schwartz. What was it about playing for him again? And what did you love about playing for him in Philly?

“Yeah, obviously, we had the success through our run there, but one thing about Jim and his defense is it’s concise. You know your role and you know how offenses are going to attack you. I just mentioned earlier that when I look back on my career and I look back at the times and the years that I played as clear-minded as I ever have, it was with him, it was those years with Coach Schwartz. And I think that’s just due to the preparation that he brings, the understanding of the defense, the understanding of how offenses are going to try to scheme you up and then just executing at a high level.”


And then obviously you mentioned a guy like Rodney who was brought here in part for his leadership ability. I’m assuming that’s something that you want to bring here, too, and that’s something that Jim wants you to bring as well?

“Absolutely. I mean, it’s kind of been my role since I was in Philly as kind of more of a young guy still took on that leadership role. But I don’t force anything. I try to just be who I am. I try to be authentic; I try to be genuine and I’m here to help. I’m here to aid in other people’s maturation and grow all our IQs and our ability to play together. And I think that when you have eleven guys on a defense who are playing with that type of mindset to serve and to help each other to grow, to excel, I think that’s what makes certain defenses special. So again, I’m just here to be me, do my role and obviously, fit in well with this team.”


Hey, Jordan, another question about Jim because I know Rodney talked about this some last year, but knowing he kind know stepped away from that D coordinator role, especially when he was going through his health issues, to see him come back last year and this defense perform as well as it did, were you surprised at all that Jim had that kind of performance in him? And what does it mean to you, just as his former player, to see him have that kind of success again?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s awesome to see, right. Because you always follow the guys you played for, you follow teammates, you follow teams, you follow defensive coordinators and coaches. So, to see him come back and have the type of success that he has is not surprising. Knowing who he is, knowing what he brings energy-wise, knowing what he brings mentally to a team, to a culture, and understanding his part in how to build a group of guys to achieve something special, so not surprising. But again, excited to be a part of it, excited for another opportunity to play for him and have a shot. That’s what you play this game for. I’m going into year ten, right? I want to win. I played on teams that don’t win, and it’s not fun to play this game. So when you’re on an organization that takes it as serious as the Browns do and have an expectation of doing more than what is just acceptable, that’s what good teams do.”


I’m sure it’s been a whirlwind for you, but since you mentioned some of the guys you’ve played with in the past, I wanted to ask you specifically. You haven’t played with JOK yet, but I wondered what you think about him so far, if you’ve had a chance to talk to him since he’s the one coming back?

“Yeah, haven’t talked to him yet. Very excited to, but I’ve seen his game over the years just continue to excel. And you watch him, he’s all over the place, right. You see a guy, you watch, you put on film, and you say, who stands out? Obviously, there’s certain people on defense, and he’s one of them. Just his ability to understand how to attack the ball, how to just use his natural ability, his instincts to find the ball. And obviously his speed and strength is out of the God given, something you can’t teach. So excited to get around him. I’m excited to get around the entire group.


Hey, Jordan, I wanted to ask you about, you had an injury scare last year that you went through. Can you describe going through that and what that did for you, perspective wise and everything, just sort of, as you get later into your career, kind of give you a different outlook on getting to play this game?

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve had my fair share of injuries throughout the years and have been able to bounce back. Last year, I had compartment syndrome, which can be very serious. I got emergency surgery, basically to relieve the pressure in my shin, and when I woke up on the table, I was told by the doctor it was a good thing we cut it open because I could have lost my leg, at worst. And then from there, it’s like, okay, you could have had muscle damage, you could have had nerve damage, you could have had a whole list of things on top of that. So everything went exactly the way you could ever hope for it. But being a veteran in this league and seeing a lot of injuries is the first time I’ve ever seen that one firsthand. And so things definitely get put into perspective. I’ve got three children. I got a wife, I got a family that if something would have gone south – you think about those thoughts of, like, man, that never would have imagined, right? And so count your blessings. It puts things into perspective of how lucky you are every time you step out there on the field to be able to play the game that so many people love to watch and find enjoyment in and that we find enjoyment in. We wouldn’t be able to play this game if we didn’t. Yeah, definitely. But for me, there was a lot of opportunity to show the amount of grit and the amount of fight that I try to instill in my kids and my family through that injury and was able to get back. I was up running around in a couple of weeks and was able to get back on the field for the last three games of the season, even going through that. So a lot of learning, a lot of perspective, but hopefully was able to navigate that the right way.”


How much did your teammates sort of rally around you while you were going through it and then when you came back?

“Yeah, quite a bit. It was emotional. It was emotional for a lot of people. And so we had a great group of guys out there, really close-knit. And so you lean on them. You lean on them when you can’t be around the facility as much as you want to, you hear the stories of what’s going on in the facility, what’s going on around the building. It keeps you going.”


Hey, Jordan. Welcome to Cleveland. I know we’ve talked a lot about Jim, and you mentioned following him after you left Philly. How much did you keep in touch with him, and did you ever envision yourself getting a chance to play for him?

“You know, I didn’t, and we didn’t keep in touch a ton. I saw him a couple of times, saw him in Tennessee when he was helping out over there, so never necessarily thought this day would come. Being ten years in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine what next year is going to look like. This is my fourth team now, and you never can predict what’s going to, you know, you keep everything open, and when an opportunity like this presents itself, you can’t say no.”


And I know you had to sort of watch the Eagles’ Super Bowl run from IR, but Jim last year, he compared the locker room here in Cleveland this past season to the locker room that year. Just what do you kind of remember and what stands out about the culture in Philly that year and do you get a sense that there’s sort of a similar vibes here?

“Definitely. You know, I’ve heard amazing things about the culture here, and just from my few hours in the building, you can tell it’s something special. So it’s hard to compare, right, with it being I haven’t met really any of the guys yet, but at the same time, you know, that culture within a building can propel you to win the type of games that a lot of people don’t expect you to win. And that was the case for us in ’17. A lot of us were hurt. It wasn’t just me. It was Carson Wentz who was on an MVP run. It was Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos. It was a whole list of guys who were impactful on that team and the guys that stepped up believed in each other. And there was a culture that was built in that it didn’t matter who was on the sideline, didn’t matter who was on the field they were going to ride for each other. That’s how important culture is and that’s why it’s something that’s a focal point.”


Jordan, I was kind of looking over the roster a little bit, and you’re one of at least four guys that I can see right now that are in that 30, 31 year old age range. You’ve got Shelby Harris, Za’Darius Smith, Quinton Jefferson. You guys are all longtime savvy veterans. You all have kids. Is it nice to come to a team where that veteran experience is valued and you will have guys like that you’ll have plenty of in common with as well?

“Absolutely. Again, it just speaks to the culture that I think they’re trying to build and then also the fact that they’re trying to compete right now. It’s not always about looking ahead and always going younger. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have a job right now. So appreciate that. Very much so. But at the same time, it’s a testament of what’s being built here, and I think there’s a good blend to have a good blend of veteran leadership along with young energy and young players know you can build this thing and help get this thing going in the right trajectory.”


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