When the Arizona Cardinals beat the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, one of the most surprising statistics was the snap count for linebacker Jordan Hicks.
It was 61, also the number of total defensive snaps in the game. Hicks, in fact, has only missed one snap all year.
This was strange to see because of a report in mid-May that the Cardinals told Hicks that he could look for somewhere else to play in a trade. That was a result of the team drafting linebacker Zaven Collins in the first round to play Hicks’ spot, and general manager Steve Keim said on draft night Collins would be playing that position. Given Collins’ versatility and ability to rush the passer, that was not exactly what some pictured initially when Collins was picked.
And then head coach Kliff Kingsbury said later in the offseason that Collins was expected to start over Hicks.
“It was tough, obviously. I got a call [from general manager Steve Keim] a few days after the draft saying I couldn’t compete for the job,” Hicks said in late July.
So, with all that, Keim wanted to clear the air on how some interpreted those series of events going down. Specifically, that he does not make depth chart choices on his own.
“Just for the record, I want to make this crystal clear. I never tell coaches who to play,” he told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday. “When we’re in the draft room, and we make those decisions, we make them collectively. That was a collective decision as an organization. When I called Jordan Hicks, it was to tell him his business options in terms of being traded or what he wanted to do.”
Collins’ highest percentage of defensive snaps played in his first four games has been 41%, and against a complex Los Angeles Rams offense in Week 4, Collins only played four total snaps.
Keim credited Hicks’ ability as one of the leaders on the defense that he can get other players in the right spot and lined up correctly.
“Zaven is going to be a really good player in this league but the offense dictates what you do schematically,” Keim said. “Depending on the week and what we’re gonna get, it’ll depend on who we have in there.”