Sendejo looking to ‘knock the rust off’

Safety Andrew Sendejo is returning from a lower back injury that kept him out until Monday and needs to prove himself to the new coaching staff.

With Robert Blanton still out with a hamstring injury, fellow safety Andrew Sendejo is making his way back onto the practice field for the first time since with the new coaching staff.

Sendejo’s teammates in the defensive backfield have been putting head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense into practice since April, but because of a lower back injury suffered while lifting weights in the spring, Sendejo has been relegated to a practice observer. On Monday, the Vikings activated him off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

“Yeah, it is a little different than being out there with live bullets,” Sendejo said. “Even when you start fresh, it always takes you a couple days to knock the rust off so I’m looking forward to getting that out of the way and getting back to my normal self.”

Sendejo took part in the Monday morning walk-through for the Minnesota Vikings and Zimmer said he will start with individual drills in the afternoon and the coaching staff will monitor his situation from there.

Sendejo started 10 games last year as an injury fill-in – starting nine games for Harrison Smith and one for Jamarca Sanford.

“I think I did a decent job of stepping up. Harrison (left) some big shoes to fill,” he said. “I tried to do my best and just make the plays that came my way.”

Sendejo ended up with career highs in games played (16), starts (10), tackles (104) and tackles for loss. In fact, it was the first time he registered any defensive statistics in his four seasons in the league.

But those statistics came in a drastically different defense with a different coaching staff. Now he will have to prove himself all over with a head coach that is often focused on the defensive backs.

“The hardest part is the perfection that he demands,” Sendejo said of Zimmer. “Every little detail has got to be perfect. You can’t get lazy. You’ve got to be focused in on every single thing and nothing slides by him. He catches everything. You’ve really got to be dialed in when you go out there.

“He has a great wealth of knowledge in that area. It’s good to have that because you can soak up a lot of that and that’s going to help you make plays on the field.”

Zimmer said his defense isn’t that difficult for the safeties, but they have to attentive to details.

“The secondary, I don’t think it’s complicated, but there’s some things to being precise in your alignment,” Zimmer said. “We ask them to be pretty disciplined in their movements, when they’re going places, where the checks are and especially when you’ve got a lot of movement from the offense. It makes it a little bit more difficult. Some of the pressure packages you’ve got to be pretty good at.”

With both Blanton and Sendejo out for the last week at training camp, the safety rotation next to Smith has been a mix of players, from Sanford to Kurt Coleman to Mistral Raymond.

Sendejo has a chance to get back into the conversation, but he said that’s not part of his thinking, at least at the outset of him getting involved in practices once again.

“I don’t really get real caught up in working to get a starting job,” he said. “You just come in there, play ball, do what you’re supposed to do, line up where you’re line up, making the plays you’re supposed to make, work hard and everything else will take care of itself.”


  • Blanton isn’t expected to play in Friday’s preaseason opener against the Oakland Raiders as he works his way back from a hamstring injury suffered last Monday. Before the injury, Blanton was in the lead for a starting spot.

  • Linebacker Brandon Watts’ hamstring injury is considered minor and he could return to practice full-time Monday afternoon.

  • Tight end AC Leonard will continue to undergo tests Monday and Tuesday as the team tries to figure out why he suffered a headache that took him out of practice last week. Zimmer said he hasn’t been told it was a concussion.

  • Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will consult with assistant Ryan Ficken during preseason games. Ficken is a likely candidate to take over coordinating special teams during Priefer’s three-game suspension for anti-gay comments, a suspension that could be reduced to two games after sensitivity training.

  • Priefer said he is most excited to see Adam Thielen, Kain Colter and Jerick McKinnon return kicks and punts in the preseason opener. Cordarrelle Patterson isn’t likely to return kicks until later in the season.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

  • Viking Update Top Stories