Eric Kendricks is on pace to lead the Vikings in tackles for a fifth year in a row, and games like Sunday’s 38-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles could bring him his first Pro Bowl recognition.
The linebacker finished with 10 tackles, a split sack, two pass deflections and a forced fumble. That’s the type of “damage” he wants to cause weekly, and if a Pro Bowl nod finally comes — it comes. If not, Kendricks said it’s just “an afterthought” because he has long felt overlooked.
“I always feel like I’m just a little underrated,” the 27-year-old said Monday. “That’s just how it’s going to be. I go out and try to be the best person I can be and try to accomplish things I’ve never accomplished before. [The Pro Bowl] being one of them, it’s on the list of things to do.”
Kendricks, tabbed as an undersized second-round linebacker out of UCLA in 2015, said being overlooked has been “kind of my life story” and that he “kind of loves it, honestly.”
He rebounded from early struggles in coverage against the Eagles, which linebackers coach Adam Zimmer likened to “rookie Eric” on the sideline, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. But Kendricks found a disruptive groove and made big plays in the second half.
“Early in the game, he wasn’t very good in coverage a couple times,” Mike Zimmer said. “Then he got settled down and got back to playing really well. He just has to stay disciplined in his coverage. We’re asking him to do a lot of things because he’s a talented guy.”
Kendricks wasn’t overlooked in college, however — he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker in 2014.
‘Help his confidence’
Running back Dalvin Cook said Sunday he was “proud” of Stefon Diggs for “sticking in there, because we haven’t been getting him the ball as much” before the wide receiver’s three-touchdown game against Philadelphia. While Zimmer said he doesn’t see the big day changing Diggs, it could ease concerns about his role in the offense.
“I don’t think it’s going to change how he is,” Zimmer said after Diggs caught seven passes for 167 yards and became the first Vikings player with three TD catches in a game since 2005. “He always plays with a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. I think it’ll help his confidence knowing that he’s going to get some balls.
“As long as he stays disciplined in his route-running and all those things, he’s going to continue to get a lot of balls.”
Zimmer did not send an optimistic message Monday about tight end David Morgan, who is eligible to practice this week after starting the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
The 2016 sixth-round pick — who has played in 38 games over the past three seasons, including 12 starts — has been dealing with knee issues.
The Vikings have five weeks to return Morgan to the practice field, at which point a three-week clock starts on their decision to activate him to the 53-man roster. If he doesn’t practice within five weeks, by NFL rule Morgan, 26, will have to be shelved for the remainder of the season.
“I don’t know where he’s at in that area,” Zimmer said.
Davis to practice squad
The Vikings re-signed receiver Davion Davis to the practice squad. The undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State was waived last weekend to make room for linebacker Cameron Smith’s promotion to the 53-man roster.