Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks has been doing something before every game that would have caused much consternation for many people not long ago but now passes relatively unnoticed and unmentioned in game coverage.
He kneels during the national anthem.
Asked if he’s surprised that kneeling no longer gets the attention it once did, Kendricks said, “I just feel like now it’s like … people kind of are more aware of the situations that are going on in America. Maybe it’s just a little bit more respected than it was back then.”
Kendricks, who isn’t alone among Vikings players now kneeling during the anthem, was succinct when asked Thursday why he does it.
“Have you seen the George Floyd video?” he said. “That’s one of the reasons. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Kendricks did not practice for the second straight day because of a foot injury. He said he was “doing better” and felt “hopeful.”
If Kendricks can’t play Sunday against Seattle, seven-year veteran Todd Davis, the former Bronco signed as a free agent on Sept. 24, would start.
“Todd’s coming along nice,” linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said. “We got him in the game a little bit last week, and he did a nice job. He had a couple tackles. He’s a really smart kid. A veteran, knows football.”
Returner K.J. Osborn (hamstring) and cornerback Holton Hill (foot) also did not practice Thursday. Hill was downgraded after being limited in Wednesday’s practice.
Meanwhile, receiver Adam Thielen (shoulder) returned to full practice after being limited Wednesday.
Cornerback Mike Hughes (neck) made it through a full practice for the second straight day after missing the past two games.
Vikings defend Smith’s hit
Co-defensive coordinators Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson said there was no teaching opportunity for young defenders in Harrison Smith’s ejection for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Texans tight end Jordan Akins during last Sunday’s win at Houston.
“I don’t know what you tell them to do [differently] — let the guy catch the ball?” Patterson said. “I mean, I really don’t know what you tell a guy to do. Unless you tell him, ‘Just let the guy catch the ball and then tag him.’
“[Smith] did what he’s been taught to do. Lower your target. Hit him down at the waist area … that’s what he was trying to do. But he can’t control what the receiver does. That’s the problem. He can’t control what the receiver does. If the receiver didn’t duck, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
Zimmer said he thought Smith “got his shoulder in there below his head,” making it a legal play that didn’t deserve a flag, much less an ejection.
“The officials have to make calls bang-bang, on the spot, and that’s a tough one that went against us,” Zimmer said. “But I trust Harrison to make the right play whenever he’s out there. As coaches, you line up and play the next play. And we ended up holding them to a field goal in the red zone there.”
Takeaway time in Seattle
Seattle’s defense is bad, but not as awful as the raw numbers.
Yes, the Seahawks rank dead last in yards allowed per game at 476.8. Yes, that’s 50.3 more per game than a Vikings’ defense that’s had its share of issues this year.
But where Seattle’s defense has chipped in along this 4-0 journey is takeaways. Heading into Sunday night’s game against the Vikings, it ranks second in takeaways (eight) and interceptions (six). The team’s turnover margin of plus-3 is also second behind Cleveland (plus-4).
“They just fly to the ball,” Thielen said. “They keep things in front of them. They kind of know where the ball is going to go based off what teams do against them, what kind of routes they run against them.
“So they basically just kind of let everybody stay in front of them and then they attack the ball. You see it over and over on film.”