''I've got a little bit of a past,'' said the 25-year-old Hicks, acquired from the Saints during New England's bye week. ''I went from school in Louisiana to school in Canada and then back down to New Orleans.
''It was a process, but I'm happy with where I'm at now.''
The Fair Oaks, California native started his college days at Sacramento City College, where he was an All-American and then recruited by LSU after his two years there. He moved to Baton Rouge, but was in the middle of a scandal over his recruitment that led to a year's probation for the program - and also led to Hicks never playing for the Tigers.
Trying to decide on his future, Hicks went to work at a DIRECTV call center in Colorado Springs and received an offer to play for the CFL Toronto Argonauts. Instead, he went to play at the University of Regina, where he got another offer from the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League after his first season. But he stayed in school.
Hicks was a third-round pick of the Saints in 2012, making him the ninth player, and the second highest, from the Canadian Interuniversity system, to be drafted by the NFL.
Even though he started the first three games for the Saints this season, his playing time had diminished and he had just two tackles. He was swapped for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui after starting 33 of his last 34 games with the Saints.
''For me it's really about moving forward and getting to my new team and focusing on what I have to do here,'' said Hicks, in the final year of a four-year contract. ''It's part of the business and I'm looking forward to taking my step forward here.''
The Patriots and Saints practiced in West Virginia prior to their preseason game. It's clear the Patriots liked what they saw in Hicks, who had 4 1-2 sacks in 2013.
''He played some different spots at New Orleans, from anywhere from the center out to the 5 technique,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on a Sunday conference call. ''So, we'll see how that goes here. But, big guy, physical player. We got a good look at him down there and thought that he did some good things. So, we'll just put him into it here and see how it goes.''
Asked how he felt Monday after his first practice with his new team, the 6-foot-5, 324-pound Hicks said, ''bunches of fun. I'm just happy to be here.''
NOTES: Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, who has yet to play this season because of an illness, returned to practice Monday for the first time since having limited participation on Sept. 17. ''We all work hard to try to contribute to the team and you can't do that when you're not playing, so it feels good to get out there and practice,'' he said. ''. It just feels good to do your job. You don't want to get paid to do nothing.'' . Wendell's return gave the Patriots full participation as they prepped for Sunday's game at Dallas.
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