Going in to his third year with the Minnesota Vikings, Eric Kendricks has proven to be a reliable middle linebacker. Kendricks tallied 70 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception in 2016 and has been an important part of Mike Zimmer’s defense. He desires to be the best in 2017, and has put in extra work this offseason to accomplish that.
I caught up with Kendricks to see how he was feeling before the start of the 2017 season. “I feel great, trying to be the best linebacker in the NFL.” Kendricks’ aspirations don’t lie solely on the clichéd “I just want to help my team”, but he has goals beyond that. Kendricks stays motivated to be the best and it shows in his play, he understands that playing at a high level individually can be just as important to helping his team improve.
How does that change his role for this year? Being the best Eric Kendricks he can be is where his focus lies, and he feels that his play should speak for himself. “I try not to get caught up in all that, and I try to be me day to day”, Kendricks on whether he feels he is being pushed into a leadership role. Kendricks understands young players already gravitate towards him and he wants to lead by example.
For his third year he is focusing more on the nuances opposing offenses are doing. He has become more engaged into offensive concepts and is spending more time learning the intricacies because “…the faster you can react, the faster you can make plays, the more you can help your team.” Kendricks feels like he has a grasp of the defense, and enjoys learning more about the offense to help him improve.