Steve: New Coordinator, new position, no problem for Hicks
You hear the moniker “gentle giant” used often to describe a player in sports that may be menacing in stature but is actually a very kind, easy going, and approachable person. That description fits 2nd year defensive lineman Akiem Hick to a T.
The 6 ft 5 inch 324 pounder always seems to have a smile on his face, and is even becoming quite the trend setter in the locker room.
Hicks on his hairdo: “It’s really funny because last year, I think it was either around game 7 or game 8, I had brought it on to a real light small Mohawk. Now mine’s been growing and everybody else is trying to catch up. I’m not too mad about it, it’s all right.”
The Saints 2012 3rd round draft pick is looking to grow more than his hair in 2013.
“Everybody’s is fighting for a job and everybody wants to play on Sunday,” Hicks says about the competition in practice. “Everybody is going to get reps but who is going to get the most, though. It’s a competition and its need for the cream to rise to the top.”
In his rookie year Hicks played in 14 games and totaled 20 tackles with 1 forced fumble and 1 pass defended. You could really see his progression toward the end of the season, and he was one of the very few bright spots in the league’s worst defense. Now in year 2, a lot more will be expected from the 23-year-old who faces a new challenge of learning a new defensive scheme and position.
After one season Steve Spagnulo was out as Saints defensive coordinator and Rob Ryan was hired to take his place. The biggest difference between the two is that Spags ran a 4-3 scheme while Ryan uses a 3-4. Hicks will also be making the switch to defensive end from defensive tackle, but he insists it really isn’t that big a deal.
“It’s been going really good,” says Hicks. “I played a lot of defensive end in college so I’m pretty used to it.”
Certainly nothing is set in stone, and Hicks could end of playing nose tackle still. But it was pretty clear after the Saints selected John Jenkins in the third round this year that they felt Akiem Hicks could better be utilized as an end.
His main competition for playing time at the defensive end position is Kenyon Coleman.