The Philadelphia Eagles have been getting great play from their inside linebackers this season, but it hasn't been from the players most people expected to start. Young talents Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks have both been sidelined for the majority of the season due to injuries. In their absence, veteran DeMeco Ryans and rookie Jordan Hicks have joined to form quite a strong starting duo. Fellow Eagles players now have nicknames for these two players:
Malcolm Jenkins: We call DeMeco "Mufasa" and Jordan (Hicks) "Simba." When DeMeco went out (vs Giants) I told him "it’s your show now."— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) October 21, 2015
Chip Kelly has referred to Ryans as "Mufasa" before so that's not exactly new, but it's cool to see Hicks labeled as "Simba" to complete the pairing. After all, the 23-year-old Hicks is likely the eventual heir to the 31-year-old Ryans.
Expectations for each of these players heading into the season was low. There were concerns about Ryans' effectiveness after coming off his second career Achilles injury. Meanwhile, Hicks wasn't a very popular pick when the Eagles selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. It was thought Hicks would only really contribute on special teams as a rookie.
But now here they are, proving everyone wrong, and being nicknamed after Lion King players along the way.