Hicks Acclimating to Minnesota

After a trade that caught him completely off-guard, right guard Artis Hicks quickly got over the change and is feeling more comfortable in Minnesota.

Artis Hicks played four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and certainly didn't expect a trade on draft weekend, but in an interview with Viking Update at minicamp last weekend, the guard said it's all part of the business.

"I'm over that. The following day, I was a Viking. I just accepted it and moved on," he said.

Still, Hicks had no idea he was on the trading block. If fact, he didn't even know who the Eagles had drafted, a large part of why Philadelphia coach Andy Reid called up his former offensive coordinator, Brad Childress, now the head coach of the Vikings, after that first day of the draft.

While Childress and Reid discussed trade options, Hicks was oblivious to the fact that the Eagles had drafted an offensive lineman in the second round or that they would strike again with an offensive lineman in the fourth round. But after the third round Saturday night, April 30, Reid called Childress and the wheels for the transaction were put in motion. All the while, Hicks was in the dark.

"I didn't know anything about it until five minutes until it actually went down. That happens in this business. I'm glad to be with the Vikings because that's the organization that's on the up-and-up," Hicks said two weeks later.

"I didn't watch the draft. I don't get caught up in that because that has nothing to do with you as a player. What they do upstairs is what they do upstairs, and it's business upstairs, so why sit around and worry about what they're going to do. I'd rather be out fishing because I can't control it either way."

With the Eagles' drafting of USC offensive tackle Winston Justice in the second round and Georgia guard Max Jean-Gilles in the fourth round, Philadelphia was backed up on the offensive line and the Vikings were willing trade partners for a swap of fourth-round picks and an additional sixth-rounder.

Hicks arrived in Minnesota two days after the trade and did all the workouts that week. He went home for an extended weekend one week before minicamp started and arrived back in Minnesota five days before the start of minicamp to continue working out and getting acclimated to his new surroundings.

"That was important to get here and get situated with my new teammates and coaches and just move forward," he said.

It helps that his former offensive coordinator is implementing a similar style in Minnesota, but there are differences that could complicate the transition.

"It's similar, but a lot of the terminology is a lot different. That's the hardest thing for me, just relating to a lot of the line calls we used last year but they mean different things now," Hicks said. "Our two line coaches, Coach Pat (Morris) and (Jim Hueber), Childress gave them some freedom to use what they're accustomed to. That comes with the business – you've got to make changes and you've got to make adjustments."

Hicks started 31 games in his four years with Philadelphia and quickly earned the respect of the front office if a five-year contract extension during his second season is any indication. But when Hicks looks at the potential of the Vikings offensive line, he does so referencing the achievements and potential of the new-look unit up front.

"This is a good offensive line. You look at (Bryant) McKinnie, a potential Pro Bowler, (Steve) Hutchinson, three-time Pro Bowler, and (Matt) Birk, 13-time Pro Bowler (actually, a four-time Pro Bowler). And the right tackle, Marcus Johnson, he a young guy with Pro Bowl potential," Hicks said. "I'm just trying to do my part and fit in as best as I can."

The talent, potential and accomplishments are obvious with each of the starters up front, but the obvious question is: How long will it take the new moving parts to come together as a moving machine?

"That's what training camp is for," Hicks said. "That's when you start bonding and clicking with the guy beside you. Not just on the field, but in the locker room and just being around him in the dorms and in the dining hall and just starting to become friends. I'm bonding with the guys now, but I know that's when it's going to be that extra camaraderie.

"Most offensive lineman are good guys because we're all overworked and underappreciated. We all can relate to each other."

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