Steve Keim and the Cardinals front office had many people scratching their heads a few months back when they used their first-round pick on an inside linebacker for the second straight year.
Even more head-scratching, at least to me, was handing Zaven Collins the starting job before he ever even stepped foot on the practice field. As we saw with Isaiah Simmons last year, there can be quite the learning curve coming into the NFL.
“Zaven is a mentally tough young man,” said head coach Kliff Kingsbury. “I think if you know his story, where he comes from, what he's about, he understands he's got to earn his stripes in a way by playing well on the field. He knows the situation, but you got to be out on the field and produce.”
That put Jordan Hicks, a team captain, in a bit of a tricky situation with the team allowing him to seek a trade this offseason. There were suitors, but no deal to be made, so he’s still here and showed up ready to go on day one of camp.
“It was, it was tough, right? Obviously,” said Hicks. “I got a call a few days after the draft [from Steve Keim] saying that I couldn't compete for the job. When I heard that, that was the whole reason behind all the drama. There's nothing against Zaven, the kid is awesome. He's a great player, he's done nothing but great things out there. He's gonna have a bright future in the NFL, but when everything happened, it was tough to handle.”
Hicks said he believes he’s proven that he’s a starter in the NFL, he just wants the opportunity.
“Every player understands the business side of this game that we play, right, in the NFL. And so, there's a part of you that is pissed off, right? Because all you want to do is have an opportunity to compete,” said Hicks.
“But then at the same time you understand that Steve [Keim] is doing his job and is doing what he has to do to, you know, further the team per se, in his opinion. I respected the fact that he told me straight up, I respected the fact that he told me he was gonna work with me to try to honor a trade. There's a part of you that respects it, but then there's a part of you that just wishes you had had an opportunity to compete, which is all I asked for.”
“Jordan Hicks is the consummate professional,” said Kingsbury. “He's played at a high level in this league for a long time. We feel really good about both those guys being on the field, there's no doubt.”
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said earlier this week that if Collins struggles, they could sit him down for a series or two to watch and learn. Hicks said he’s still open to a trade if it gets him on the field.
“I’ve got faith," Hicks said. "It always works out the way it's supposed to. I show up every day to work to get better and to play hard, and to be the person that I am. Whatever the circumstance, I don't try to waver who I am, right? And whether I'm out there starting, or whether I'm not, I’m going to help whoever needs help because I feel like I've got a lot of knowledge to share.”
There is no depth chart controversy at quarterback, but as we saw last year late in the season, having a backup quarterback you can rely on comes in handy, so that was a priority this offseason bringing Colt McCoy aboard.
“We knew we wanted to find the right guy that could play at a high level and also help mentor Kyler,” said Kingsbury. “To find a guy who Kyler probably watched, I know he watched, growing up when Colt was the king of Texas, it's pretty neat. Me being from Texas myself, to sit in that room and listen to them go back and forth and share stories, they're really building a good rapport.”
Speaking of Texas, the Dallas Cowboys come to town in less than two weeks for the Cardinals' first preseason game.