The Vikings have a lot of familiar faces at linebacker, yet they’re much deeper at the position this season. The only significant addition was second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks, but the Vikings have seen significant strides from Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole to give them five solid linebackers to rotate.
“I think this is the best depth we’ve ever had,” said linebacker Chad Greenway, in his 10th season with the Vikings. “I think we have the most guys that could be starter-worthy. We have the most guys that have the potential to be game-changers.”
Anthony Barr remains a mainstay and an every-down player at strongside linebacker, but Greenway and the rest of the linebackers will have roles that depend on game situations. Hodges likely will be the starting middle linebacker in the base 4-3 defense, with Greenway at the weakside linebacker spot. Kendricks will receive early playing time at middle linebacker in the nickel defense, paired with Barr, his former UCLA teammate. In the event of an injury, Cole can play both middle and outside linebacker as a backup.
“We’ve got some moving parts with guys moving in and out, and we just need to all be on the same page,” Greenway said. “We’ve done so much better communicating out on the field, which is a necessity in this defense. With this defense and with our team right now, it’s about accepting your role and being as great as you can at it. I think that’s everyone’s approach, and we’re not worried about anything else besides winning.”