December 17, 2023   7 MIN READ

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Rookie Diary With Eli Ricks


The Eagles last Sunday dropped to 10-3, falling in gut-wrenching fashion to their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, on the road in a 33-13 defeat.

The consensus going in was that Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who tormented the Eagles in the first matchup with 11 catches for 191 yards on 16 targets, would roam free and break the game wide open, pouncing on an Eagles’ secondary in flux.

While Lamb found the end zone on Dallas’ opening drive, his impact was minimal by comparison, as the 24-year-old wideout totaled 71 yards on six receptions (10 targets).

Eli Ricks, Darius Slay

GETTY IMAGES: Eagles rookie CB Eli Ricks (left) could be asked to fill in for injured corner Darius Slay (right).

Sure, the presence of veteran Bradley Roby – who missed the first matchup due to injury – helped alleviate excessive damage.

But rookie corner Eli Ricks, who logged 18 snaps in the rout, also deserves mention for his ability to fine-tune and rebound from a forgettable first outing against Dallas.

For perspective, the rookie cornerback didn’t concede a catch in the rematch.

With team captain and top corner Darius Slay sidelined with a knee injury – he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this week – Ricks is primed to undertake a different role as the Eagles travel to the west coast to take on the Seattle Seahawks.

The 22-year-old returned to his natural position at corner, where he’ll now have an opportunity, among other candidates, to fill the void in the interim.

Regardless of who’s the starter or who shoulders the bulk of the workload, the assignment will surely quantify as challenging, squaring off against a Seahawks receiving corps that features D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, potentially underscoring another jarring detour along Ricks’ winding rookie journey.

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.

On Friday, I stopped by Ricks’ locker after practice to discuss a multitude of topics, including his return to his natural position, rookie obstacles, history with Seahawks rookie WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba and his quick rundown of the Seattle receiving corps.

Andrew: You didn’t allow a catch vs. Dallas. Were they attacking the same? How were  you able to rebound?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “They really didn’t do the same things. They ran the ball a little more. But it was honestly just me knowing more about the team and me being more prepared. They definitely, obviously, had a better scheme that night. But I think it was just me being more prepared and me having a game under my belt already against them.”

Andrew: What were your impressions of Kelee [Ringo] in his first extended look on defense?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “When Reed [Blankenship] went down, [Kelee] stepped in really good in our dime package. And went Slay went down. So, it was good seeing him out there. We’re gonna need legs like that, especially this deep in the season, with Slay banged up as well.”

Andrew: What’s stood out to you about him in practice?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Just his work ethic. He has really grown and taking it really, really serious now. He’s definitely grown as a player from when we first got in here.”

Andrew: How are you feeling physically? This is typically when college football season windsandrew dicecco down.

Eli Ricks mugEli:”I mean, I was hurt every year in college, so, the most games I played was eight. It’s the most football I’ve played since high school. I’m really sore, but I’m just thinking of it as two seasons, basically. You know, we’re almost done with this one and we got one more coming up in January. So, that’s how I’m looking at it.”

Andrew: Did you ever face off against [Seahawks rookie WR] Jaxon Smith-Njigba in college?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “No, but at damn near every camp in high school we went against each other. That’s my bro. I know him, and we real cool people.”

Andrew: How did you fare in your matchups against him?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I think I fared pretty good. If anybody knows me in high school, I wasn’t losing many reps [laughs]. So, we’ll keep it at that.”

Andrew: You’ve bounced between corner and nickel this year. Have you ever felt as if you were swimming?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Definitely a lot on my plate. Out of everybody, I’m really kinda the only one that does both corner and nickel. Sydney [Brown] did a little bit of both, too. But corner is really easy for me. I just started moving back to corner because Slay is banged up. And I really didn’t have to pick up on anything. Corner is pretty easy, but nickel? That’s a whole ‘nother world right there. So, I think now that I know both it’s good. Just as long as I get reps in practice at whichever one they wanna play me at, I’ll be fine.”

Andrew: From a preparation standpoint, has it been a big adjustment pivoting back to corner?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I still prepare the same. The time I come to watch film before practice, I still break it down the same, just from a corner perspective. So, the timewise I’m watching film is the same; how I break it down is the same. Just kinda transferring it over to cornerback.”

Andrew: What have you seen from the Seahawks WR corps? How do you see yourself fitting in the gameplan?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “I’m gonna be a corner this week for sure. So, no nickel this week, barring injury. But that’s where I’m gonna be at this week. And then, the receivers, obviously D.K. [Metcalf], he’s their main guy. Tyler Lockett is probably their second wide receiver. Then on third downs, No. 11 [Jason Smith-Njigba] has the most targets. They actually have a pretty quality receiving corps, honestly. Probably one of the upper receiving corps in the league, to be honest.”

Andrew: Have you leaned on any vets, like James [Bradberry] or [Bradley] Roby this week for intel?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “Yeah. Definitely been asking JB about D.K. this week. He kind of let us know how he’s a body-catcher and will try to box the DB out with his big-bodied frame to bring the ball in. Obviously, pushes off a lot at the top of the route. Real physical guy. Gonna tire you out by just blocking you and stuff, doing extra. But, yeah, [Bradberry] has definitely been a great.”

Andrew: Britain Covey mentioned Seattle wreaks havoc from the interior on punt coverage. What’s your focus in combatting that?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli: “They have really good gunners. I think it’s No. 33, I think he’s leading the league in tackles at gunner. It’s either in the league, or on the team, but still. So, just have a look out for that. And that’s really where my main focus will be at this weekend.”

Andrew: What’s one goal you’re aiming to achieve this week?andrew dicecco

Eli Ricks mugEli:” Just getting back in my groove at corner. I kinda of feel the same way I do right now before my first game in preseason when I was at corner. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I definitely feel like just getting back into a groove and getting back used to it out there, honestly.”

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

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