Since coming to the Vikings, Hicks was only a full-time starter in 2006, when head coach Brad Childress brought him to Minnesota from Philadelphia and had him starting in place of Anthony Herrera at right guard. Since then, Hick has started 11 games up and down the offensive line. The latest occurrence was Sunday, when rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt reinjured an ankle that had been bothering him since training camp.
"Friday I got the nod, the for sure, the definite Phil's out, but I knew Thursday evening that it didn't look good," Hicks said. "I seen him when he came off the field and just figured that it would be a long shot for him. He's a tough guy. He's battled through stuff before, but sometimes you've got to know when you can't go."
While it's always easier to have a full week of preparation at a specific position, Hicks has been called into action with much shorter notice. An in-game injury to a starter will do that. This time, he had one practice and a Saturday walk-through to prepare for the St. Louis Rams.
"I've done worse, as far as having shorter notice. Being that I've been in that situation before, it wasn't too bad," he said.
Hicks is more comfortable playing on the left side of the offensive line, but when a starting opportunity arises, unless it is at center, Hicks is usually the player called upon. He has started 25 of 46 games for the Vikings at every offensive line position but center. On Sunday, his assignment was mostly blocking Rams defensive end Leonard Little, a one-time terror in the pass rush. Hicks held his own.
"He's still got it. He's not as fast off the ball as he was years ago, but he's making up for it by working his hands. The guy did a great job with getting my hands off him," Hicks said. "I watched him on the film and that's his thing now. He works his hands. He doesn't let you keep your hands as an offensive lineman on him too long. He's always moving. He's always been active. It was challenging at times, but I just tried to fight my way through it."
The Vikings are hoping to get Loadholt back this Sunday against an aggressive Baltimore defense, but Childress seemed satisfied with Hicks' latest fill-in performance.
"I thought he did a decent job. I thought he did a decent job for not having practiced there the whole week," Childress said. "We bounce him around a good bit because he does bounce around if we need him up, and so only really having Friday of full practice at the right tackle position, I thought he did a nice job for being on that side. He's a natural left side, left-handed guy, but I thought he did a good job for lining up there."
"There's a lot of stuff I wish I could go back and do over again," Hicks said, "but I think that's how we all are. You have to be your own worst critic in this profession."
Hicks was criticized by the Fox announcing crew on Sunday for a play in which defensive tackle Gary Gibson suffered a broken ankle, ending his season. It occurred when Hicks pushed Gibson and the defender twisted awkwardly as he went to the ground.
Hicks believes he did nothing wrong on that play.
"I blocked my guy and I turned and he was right there on my left and he was still engaged with (right guard Anthony) Herrera and I just gave him a shove," Hicks said. "I didn't know the guy was out for the year, but in football it happens. I was just doing my job. I think it was well within the confines of what we do as an offensive lineman. You don't set out to hurt or put anybody out for the year, but it happens. It's unfortunate, but it happens."