PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It wasn’t the pairing people envisioned in the middle of the Eagles defense going into the season. The young, athletic pairing of Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks was supposed to be the eye popping tandem at middle linebacker.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 19: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Philadelphia Eagles recovers a fumble during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on October 19, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 19: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Philadelphia Eagles recovers a fumble during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on October 19, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Instead it is a seasoned vet and a rookie that are catching eyes. DeMeco Ryans, coming off a torn ACL, is proving that he still has it and rookie LB Jordan Hicks is looking like a serious steal. Ryans has taken Hicks under his wing to the point where the rookie has earned a new nickname.

READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: Will You Get A Fourth Relief Payment?

Ryans is known quite fondly as the “Mufasa,” of the Eagles defense. Hicks becoming “Simba,” is something the team should be very happy about. Chip Kelly longed for depth in his middle linebacking core and with injuries to his top two, we see why.

Hicks has come along quickly in his first year and it appears that Ryans’ influence has something to do with that.

The rookie is second on the team in tackles behind only Malcolm Jenkins. He also has a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

MORE NEWS: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May

The Eagles defense is keeping the team afloat through their struggles and the play of Hicks has a lot to do with that.