With Gerald Hodges long since traded and Audie Cole’s season over with a factured ankle, starting middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is trying to get back on the field as soon as he can while he deals with a rib injury.
The rookie wouldn’t say if he has broken ribs, but is anxious to get back to playing after missing the Minnesota Vikings’ 21-18 overtime win against the St. Louis Rams.
“I’m doing my best to get better. I can tell you that,” Kendricks said.
“I was on the sideline pacing back and forth. It’s not easy watching it. I want to be out there so it was a lot of anxiety.”
Kendricks said he doesn’t want to experience the feeling of sitting at home and watching the Vikings from his home during an away game, and the Vikings travel to Oakland this Sunday.
But he also doesn’t sound inclined to rush back too soon.
“I’m feeling good, but I’m still going to take it day by day. I’m doing my best to get better,” he said. “I’m in treatment every day and that’s all I can say. I’m listening to my body at this point.”
With Kendricks out, Cole started and played middle linebacker in the base defense and veteran Chad Greenway took that spot in the nickel defense, when the Vikings had only two linebackers on the field.
Greenway ended up playing all 74 defensive snap in the game after not having played more than 27 snaps since Week 1. When Cole was injured, Brandon Watts, called up from the practice squad on Oct. 27, ended up having to play seven snaps on defense.
“It’s very hard to sit out. You watch a team that you practice with, and you go to battle with, play and it’s extremely hard to watch that,” Kendricks said. “They did a great job and they came out with a lot of passion and that’s how you win games.”
Starting strongside linebacker Anthony Barr left the locker room on Sunday with an arm injury, further calling into question the health of the linebacker position.
“We’re relentless and everyone is on the same page and everyone knows what they’re doing,” Kendricks said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are smart football players and when you get a lot of injuries and guys that can fill and not miss a beat, that’s a lot to the coaching staff and that’s a lot to the players on this team.”