Friday, June 11, 2004

NFL Europe helps Hicks prepare


Play overseas reveals running back's work ethic

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Skip Hicks' last NFL carries came Dec. 22, 2001, for Tennessee.

On the Carolina roster for part of the 2002 season, but out of football in 2003, Hicks needed NFL Europe.

SKIP HICKS FILE
Position: Running back
College: UCLA
How acquired: Signed Jan. 16 with Bengals. Drafted in third round in 1998 by Washington Redskins. Also played for Tennessee and Carolina.
THE WORLD BOWL
What: World Bowl XII, NFL Europe championship game
When: Noon Saturday, Ch. 19, 45
Who: Frankfurt Galaxy vs. Berlin Thunder, featuring 59 NFL players
Where: Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany<
Hicks signed Jan. 16 with the Bengals and accepted an assignment to Frankfurt, Germany, where he led the league with 12 touchdowns and helped put the Galaxy into the title game. Frankfurt will play Berlin Saturday in World Bowl XII.

"He has kicked off the dust and rust," Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said of Hicks.

Hicks agreed.

"After sitting out, I had to get back into the game," he said. "You have to get the carries. You have to get pounded. When you sit out, there are little things that you can only experience by playing."

The Bengals signed Hicks because of "his availability, his eagerness, his big-play capability," Anderson said.

Where Hicks, now 29, fits into a crowded Bengals backfield, is yet to be determined. But his attitude and effort in Europe have helped his cause to make the team as the third back behind Rudi Johnson and first-round draft pick Chris Perry. Kenny Watson is another tailback on the Bengals' roster.

With his experience and rough road through the NFL, Hicks also said he could be a positive influence on the younger Johnson (25) and Perry (22).

"Yes, there is competition at running back, but I'm happy to get an opportunity," Hicks said Thursday in a phone interview from

Germany.

Hicks made the all-league team after rushing for 661 yards on 183 carries in 10 games.

"I wanted to show I could be productive by touching the ball 22-25 times a game," said Hicks, who played at 230 pounds.

Despite his size, Hicks has been knocked for what some say is an inability to run between the tackles.

What nobody doubts is Hicks' talent at finding the end zone.

At UCLA, he left school as the program's second all-time leading scorer with 324 points. He rushed for 48 touchdowns and had another seven on pass receptions for the Bruins, leading the Redskins to draft him in the third round in 1998.

In three years in Washington, Hicks scored 12 of his 13 NFL touchdowns. The other one came with Tennessee in 2001.

"You don't get too many chances in the red zone. You've got to make them count," Hicks said of possessions inside the 20-yard line.

He has scored 12 touchdowns in Europe, 10 on the ground.

"I talked to coach (Anderson) on the phone," Hicks said. "He told me to keep up the good work. He said they like to see hard work. I know coach (Marvin) Lewis believes that if you work hard that you produce on Sunday."

Hicks has a long run of 59 yards and scored on a pass reception of 72 yards in Europe.

After the World Bowl on Saturday against Berlin, Hicks will fly to Cincinnati. He said he expects to arrive Monday night and be at work Tuesday for the final four on-field coaching sessions - primarily a passing camp.

"I want to get in there with coach (Anderson) and learn the offense," Hicks said.

E-mail mcurnutte@enquirer.com




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