Officially, Hodges had started the first three games for the Vikings, but Kendricks got the start in Week 4 when the Vikings started in their nickel defense. With Hodges gone, Kendricks is the likely starter in the base defense now, too.
“I just know the situation that I’m given right now and that’s a great opportunity,” Kendricks said. “I’ll take that and run with it and keep working hard and just keep my head down.”
Kendricks said he had no idea last week that a trade was brewing with Hodges and found out on social media. “It’s crazy, social media nowadays,” the rookie said.
While Hodges played 63 of the 73 snaps against the 49ers in Week 1, in the last three games Kendricks has played more than Hodges, even when he wasn’t starting in place of him.
“I think Eric’s done a good job and basically he has been a starter,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s a good player. … He’s done a good job.”
When the Vikings drafted Hodges, Zimmer said Hodges might eventually move to outside linebacker, but the rookie doesn’t seem to care where he plays – as long as he is playing.
“It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just comfortable being on the field,” Kendricks said. “I like being in the middle because I like going side to side. I think that it fits me well.”
Now Kendricks is likely to be in charge of relaying the defensive calls from the sideline to the rest of the defense on the field.
The Vikings spent a couple days of practice last week correcting their mistakes and worked on it again Monday upon their return from the bye week before beginning preparations in earnest for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Some of them were just simple mistakes, maybe alignment a tad bit this way, a tad bit that way, maybe just depending on the backfield set of things like that,” he said. “A lot of it is communication, just alignment and getting to your spot that you need to be a little bit quicker.
“I wouldn’t say we have too many communication issues. It’s more knowing what the offense is doing and then communicating that. I wouldn’t say it’s incorrect things. It’s more how to prepare better, how to communicate better. You’re always trying to get the edge.”
Kendricks said he believes those mistakes are taken care of and now and the focus shifts to the Chiefs after what he termed a high-energy practice on Monday.
Just four games into the season, Kendricks’ role is expected to increase, yet he isn’t viewing the Hodges trade as a vote of confidence for him.
“People were texting me and things like that, but I just knew that it comes down to me working hard,” he said. “I always try to prepare myself the same way every game. I’m not going to change how I prepare. I guarantee you that. I’m just going to take it and run with it.”