Rookie Diary With Eli Ricks
When we last checked in with Eagles cornerback Eli Ricks, the rookie offered his immediate musings in the aftermath of the Eagles’ 28-23 win over the rivaled Dallas Cowboys, ahead of the bye week.
Ricks, of course, had logged a career-high 47 snaps in the team’s eighth win, primarily drawing Cowboys star receiver CeeDee Lamb from his nickel cornerback spot.
While the 22-year-old – playing out of position – took his expected lumps, the expanded role promised to serve as invaluable experience for a young player who might again be summoned in a critical moment.
The strides made to this point have been evident.
With the expected return of veteran cornerback Bradley Roby, Ricks could return to his natural position outside as soon as this week, ahead of a marquee Monday night matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Amid the growing pains, Roby on Thursday acknowledged the difficult proposition his teammates faced of acclimating to an entirely new position, while commending Ricks and fellow rookie Sydney Brown for their efforts.
“I was talking to those guys and trying to help them as much as I could,” he said. “I think they did well for being rookies. The slot position is a hard position. It’s not easy.”
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 Thursday, Ricks and I spent a few minutes chatting before practice, discussing – among various topics – his bye week, his relationship with Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, and combating the dreaded rookie wall.
Andrew: How did you spend the bye week?
Eli: “I just stayed home. Really didn’t do anything, to be honest. Just at home with my family, caught up with them. And that’s really it.”
Andrew: Did you have a chance to watch any football over the weekend?
Eli: “I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t watch too much football. I tried to get away from all that, to be honest, and try to really enjoy the bye week. So, I really wasn’t watching too much football. Watched a lot of UFC … really everything else besides football that week. I mean, working out-wise – that’s really not related to football – just conditioning and stuff like that. But watching-wise, I really didn’t watch too much.”
Andrew: I saw you got some gaming in as well. Are you a big gamer, and what are some of your favorites?
Eli: “I used to be a real big gamer and then I stopped, and then I’m now getting back into it. I play a lot of ‘FIFA,’ ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Rainbow Six-Three.’ They’re really the only three games I play.”
Andrew: Do you compete against any teammates?
Eli: “I played with a few teammates in Call of Duty, but not a lot of teammates play ‘FIFA’ and ‘Rainbow Six-Three,’ which are my main two games. But ‘Call of Duty?’ Yes.”
Andrew: The Texans activated your good friend Derek Stingley and happen to have another Rancho Cucamonga native in rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Did you have any relationship with C.J. growing up?
Eli: “Yeah, I’ve known him … like my first time playing football, we were on the same team. So, that’s like, since 6, 7 [years old]. So, it’s been real good. I mean, we’re signed to the same agency, too, so we’re always in contact. Real good dude, but real good person off the field as well. And Derek Stingley, it’s just good to see him back out there. He had a hamstring problem and it’s just good to see him back on the field.”
Andrew: What was Coach Nick Sirianni’s message to the team ahead of the bye week?
Eli: “Really just kind of know what’s ahead. Obviously, enjoy the time with the family and everything, but just know we have another half of a season left. So, whatever you gotta do to your body-wise, get that right, get that handled. [Defensive backs] Coach D.K. [McDonald] put up we got, like, 17 practices left – 32 workdays guaranteed at the regular season. So, it’s trickling down. But we’re halfway there.”
Andrew: What methods have you implemented to mitigate the much-discussed rookie wall?
Eli: “I would probably say just kinda working on my body extra. I don’t think it’s that bad, though, without school. I’m not complaining. I mean, if the rookie wall were to happen, it would have to happen physically. But mentally, I think I’ll be fine.”
Andrew: Bradley Roby could return Monday. What’s that mean for you – back to outside or staying at nickel?
Eli: “Been doing both. Still doing both. And I’ll really know the game plan more throughout the week. But I’ve definitely still been at both.”
Andrew: What did you learn about yourself coming out of the Dallas game?
Eli: “I don’t think I learned anything new that I haven’t already known. And I don’t think I will learn new things about myself unless it’s something drastic, say something good or bad happens to me in a game. After the Miami game, I said the same thing … I really didn’t learn too much about myself that I didn’t already know. So, really just focused on growing from that and focused on this week.”
Andrew: Let’s hear your quick scout of the Kansas City pass offense.
Eli: “A lot of quick game, hurry-up. A lot of gadget stuff, motions and stuff. But obviously, the main target is Travis Kelce, so that’s really what our gameplan is going around.”
Andrew: Did you get a chance to watch Super Bowl LVII? As a spectator then, what were your impressions?
Eli: “I got a chance to watch it. Exciting game, high-scoring game, which you really don’t see too, too much in Super Bowls. So, it was a good game and I’m glad we get a chance to go against them again.”
Andrew: What’s one goal you’re aiming to achieve this week?
Eli: “I would probably just say our finishing of the play, because we know Patrick Mahomes is gonna scramble out the pocket a lot. So, just make sure I’m plastering to everything. And we’re all plastering.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.