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.”
MONDAY A.M. NOTES
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.