December 30, 2023   7 MIN READ

Bring The Energy

Rookie Diary With Eli Ricks


As Philadelphia Eagles fans gradually filed into Lincoln Financial Field 90 minutes ahead of their Christmas Day nightcap against the divisional rival New York Giants, there was a palpable energy and optimism circulating around the venue.

At the center were the 10-4 Eagles, who had a noticeable bounce in their step during pregame warmups, poised to revive themselves from a perplexing three-game skid.

Given the abundance of top-shelf talent and leadership pillars, a loss to a lowly Giants team – propping up a third-string quarterback, no less –  would’ve been unfathomable.

Tommy DeVito, the Giants’ reserve quarterback and flavor of the week, ultimately got the hook at halftime in favor of veteran signal-caller Tyrod Taylor, who jumpstarted a dormant offense enough to make things interesting coming out of intermission.

eli ricks

GETTY IMAGES: Eagles CB Eli Ricks and his teammates tackle Giants RB Saquon Barkley

The Eagles, who carried a commanding 20-3 lead into the break, stacked enough positive plays in the final frames to secure the 33-25 victory, improving to 11-4 on the season with two games remaining.

As for cornerback Eli Ricks, the subject of this season-long diary, the rookie continues to be entrenched into a prominent rotational role.

The Alabama product again showcased sticky coverage and trademark confidence, logging 29 snaps and accounting for 46 percent of the total. Over the past two games, Ricks has surrendered only one reception for one yard on six targets.

As part of an Inside The Birds Rookie Diary series, I’ll be checking in with Ricks throughout the season, learning more about the first-year corner and chronicling his rookie campaign.

This week, I caught up with Ricks to discuss his performance against the Giants, special teams strides, areas in which he can improve, D.K. McDonald’s role in his development, the Pro Bowl ballot, and the NFL’s Top 100.

Andrew: Playing on Christmas, was the routine any different?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Nothing different. Coach [Nick] Sirianni was kinda adamant about … it’s an early game, you still have work today, you can kinda worry about Christmas after. So, that was kinda the mindset. And regardless, I knew good or bad game, my family is still gonna be there after the game. So, nothing different with the routine.”

Andrew: After watching the film from Monday, how would you assess your performance?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I think it was a good game. Barely, if any, targets outside, in general. You know, even to the other side with Kelee [Ringo] and JB [James Bradberry] when I was out there. I think I had a really good game tackling-wise. I think I’m getting a lot better at tackling. And just trying to be able to get a play even when there’s not many chances.”

Andrew: What was your role in Britain’s Covey’s 54-yard punt return?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “So, I did that block but I wasn’t thinking all that was gonna happen after it. So, you’re gonna see me on the film jumpin’ around like a little girl [laughs]. I was very excited.”

Andrew: You’ve said before that you play the “MVM” role. What exactly does that all entail?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Really, I’m looking at the gunners first. And my main objective is to really help the first guy that gets down on punt to help Covey out. To just give them an open insight when he catches the ball.”

Andrew: You take pride in strides you’ve made on special teams. How’d you go about improving in that area?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “It was more so reps, because there’s no plays on special teams, really. I mean, there is, but not as much variety as offense and defense. And I just never really played special teams before this year, so I really just needed some reps.”

Andrew: I know Covey meets with most of the return unit to map things out. You’re in on those meetings?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “We meet every Saturday, or really every day before the game – whether it’s Sunday or whatever – right after our last close-out meeting for just only like 10 or 15 minutes. And Covey just talks to all of us and kinda let’s us know what he wants and what he’s seeing. But I really salute him; he takes his job really seriously.”

Andrew: Is it fair to say that now that you’re settled in, the game has slowed down, you’re playing free?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Yeah, definitely. I’m in the game on defense, really, since Week 4 – and we’re all the way in Week 15 now. So, I definitely feel settled, especially at corner. I’m even more settled back home where I started. Much more comfortable.

Andrew: What can you bring to the defense down the stretch?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli:”I really wanna bring turnovers, big plays, that’s gonna bring energy to the defense. That’s my main goal.”

Andrew: How much of a benefit is it having someone like James [Bradberry] out there to help you and Ringo?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Big help. Always a calm demeanor to help us. Really great, seasoned veteran. Always gives us tips pre-snap and post-snap to help us.”

Andrew:  How has DBs coach D.K. [McDonald]’s coaching and developing impacted you?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I would honestly start by saying just believing in me. I’m a player you can really play me anywhere. If the coach believes in me, that I could do well in that spot, I mean, really that’s all I need. You know, they help out so much with making me learn nickel, helping me extra – but any coach can do that, it’s not really about that, it’s really about the confidence a coach gives you and ensuring he believes in you. That only was because of my work that I did every day. I would really say that’s the main thing.”

Andrew: What stands out to you about [Cardinals QB] Kyler Murray on film?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Obviously, kind of a scat quarterback. Really uses his legs for everything, even when he doesn’t need to. In the pocket, he kinda scrambles out. He feels more comfortable throwing off the scramble, for sure. And we’re expecting a lot of second plays, being able to plaster, stay on our man when he extends the plays. That’s our main focus right now. But in the red zone, we know he’s gonna try and run in it in and make the play.”

Andrew: Aside from winning, what are you looking to focus on in these next two games as the playoffs near?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Hmm, great question. Besides the win? Honestly, really, as a team, these last two games, we take them as playoff games. These two teams we’re playing aren’t going to be in the playoffs, but we need to treat them as such. We obviously need to play these last two games like playoff games because we can’t lose from here on out after these next two weeks, so we need to treat these weeks as if they’re playoff games and execute the same way.”

Andrew: You, Ben VanSumeren, and Mekhi Garner are UDFAs who’ve played this season. Is there a a close-knit bonded amongst the group?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Definitely. Just all supporting each other. I mean, the league’s hard anyways. A lot of guys that I knew from my agency were drafted and got cut. So, it was hard anyways, and especially harder at the Eagles. You know, just us being able to play the snaps that we did only makes us feel more comfortable here and more confident. But definitely a bond, for sure.”

Andrew: When it comes to the Pro Bowl – aside from the marquee names – which teammates should go?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I would probably say Reed Blankenship, honestly.”

Andrew: Josh [Jobe] is on there as a special teamer.andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Oh, I would say Josh and Sydney [Brown]. Reed, Josh, and Sydney. I think Sydney and Josh are tied for, like, third-place with the most gunner tackles.”

Andrew: I saw a lot of NFL’s Top-100 rankings being filled out Thursday. Did you fill yours out?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I did not. But it looks like I’m gonna have to.”

Andrew: Not to put you on the spot, but if you had to pick your top-3 players in the NFL, who would they be?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I would say, Jalen [Hurts], A.J. [Brown], and I probably would say [D’Andre] Swift.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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