Vikings hopeful to have LB Eric Kendricks back Sunday at Tampa

Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during training camp on August 28, 2020 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images))

There will be one name that the Minnesota Vikings and their fans will be monitoring all week on the injury report ahead of facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday: Eric Kendricks.

Kendricks appeared on the injury report after last Thursday’s practice with a calf injury. He was dressed in full uniform and pads ahead of Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. He appeared to tweak his calf during stretching, and was ruled out for the game just before kickoff.

The team’s defensive leader and play-caller couldn’t go. He had to become another coach on the sideline.

“It was a little shocking, we didn’t expect it. EK is a great player, he’s a leader out there and he’s a very smart and physical player,” linebacker Eric Wilson said. “Even though he wasn’t on the field, he still made a very positive impact.”

Kendricks leads the Vikings’ defense with 107 tackles, and has made strides this season dropping back into coverage. He has three interceptions on the year.

Wilson had to take over the middle, call plays and keep the defense organized. He’s had a season of his own, with 90 tackles, five tackles for a loss, seven quarterback hits and three interceptions. Earlier this season, Kendricks called Wilson “a walking turnover.”

“Eric is pretty important to the defense. I was joking with him and Harry, I was telling them they’re like Allstate,” defensive back Kris Boyd said. “The role he’s been playing and that he’s been asked to play, he’s stepped up and done it.”

That’s right, in a season of injuries and adjusting to off-season departures, Wilson has been the insurance policy for the Vikings’ defense. He’s played every defensive snap since Week 2, when Anthony Barr went down for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

With a young secondary and a defensive line still learning, the linebackers have had to be the constant.

“This year we’ve had a lot of moving parts, a lot of different personnel. A lot of young guys have stepped up in multiple positions, and I think to be able to be that insurance and be someone who will be there and kind of get everybody on the same page and be able to communicate, I think that’s really important,” Wilson said.

Kendricks will be the most magnified name on the injury report this week, and the Vikings don’t want to envision a long-term situation where he’s not on the field. The hope is he practices at some point this week, if not Wednesday.

“I saw him in the hallway today. We’ll see how it goes. We didn’t talk much, we’ve got a few more days to get ready,” Zimmer said.

10 Vikings appear on Wednesday injury report

The Vikings released their first injury report ahead of facing Tampa Bay on Sunday, and 10 players were on it. Four of them didn't practice, including linebacker Eric Kendricks (calf), running back Alexander Mattison (illness) and tight ends Kyle Rudolph (foot) and Irv Smith Jr. (back). Mattison missed Sunday's game after having an appendectomy.

Limited in practice were Garrett Bradbury (abdomen), Ezra Cleveland (ankle), Jeff Gladney (calf), Riley Reiff (ankle) and D.J. Wonnum (back/ankle).