Vikings Roster Move Spells Doubt in Eric Kendricks Ahead of Bears Rematch

Blake Lynch

Getty Vikings second-year linebacker Blake Lynch is likely to take Vigil's place in the starting lineup.

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks made a name for himself as one of the league’s best coverage linebackers a season ago, posting an unprecedented 12 pass breakups in 15 games.

Kendricks upped the ante this season, not only as a leader on a defense that was down to three returning starters after fellow linebacker Anthony Barr went down with a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 2, but also as a tackler in the box. He was on pace as one of the league’s busiest linebackers, ranking third in tackles (78) and run stops (19) after the Vikings’ 28-14 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 8.

Kendricks has been out with a calf injury since Week 12 after “tweaking” a nagging injury in pregame warmups against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His absence will likely extend at least another week after Minnesota made a roster move indicative of Kendricks’ status.

The Vikings elevated rookie linebacker Blake Lynch from the practice squad on Wednesday as Minnesota looks to bolster its linebacker depth in anticipation Kendricks cannot go.

Kendricks has been a non-participant in practice all week approaching this Sunday’s rematch with the Chicago Bears. Even a limited designation on Friday is far from encouraging given the time Kendricks has missed so far.

With Mitch Trubisky back under center, Minnesota will need to load up on fast linebackers to contain Trubisky — a dual-threat the Vikings did not have to face against Nick Foles in Week 10’s 19-13 win.

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 Vikings Need to Make a Change When Facing Trubisky

Mitch Trubisky

GettyMitch Trubisky presents a dual-threat with his legs the Vikings did not face against Nick Foles in Week 10.

Former Denver Broncos veteran Todd Davis has started the past two games in place of Kendricks. Davis was brought onto the team as a run-stopping linebacker who lacks top-end speed and coverage abilities. He’ll likely still be tapped for early-down work in stopping Bears running back David Montgomery.

The Vikings could opt for more speed on third downs where Trubisky could either run or throw the ball. Fourth-round rookie Troy Dye, who has come back from a foot injury from earlier this season, has seen limited work over the past seven games — notching a season-high 41% share of defensive snaps last week.

Minnesota has filled the void left by Kendricks with the combination of Dye, Davis and Jordan Brailford as a pass-rushing backer, but the dilemma remains that the Vikings lose the ability to disguise without their do-it-all option in Kendricks.

How Lynch Could Fit

Lynch, a seventh-round pick out of Baylor, is an interesting prospect who made 32 career starts at five different positions in college: cornerback, linebacker, safety, wide receiver and running back. Lynch settled in his linebacking duties his senior year, starting all 14 games to total 134 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, 3 interceptions, 12 passes defended and a blocked kick.

Lynch made his NFL debut last week, playing 13 snaps on special teams against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He could be in line for some work on defense considering his versatility and size (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) in coverage.

It’s no certainty he’ll see reps on defense, but his re-signing to this week’s roster indicates he’s done enough to maintain a special teams role at the bare minimum.


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