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Blitzes, team help Eric Kendricks take Defensive Rookie of Month

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Eric Kendricks opened October with his first start in the NFL and wrapped the month by being honored with a league-wide award.

Kendricks was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month on Thursday, becoming the seventh Vikings player to claim a total of eight designations in franchise history.

In starting all three games the Vikings played during October, Kendricks posted 20 tackles, 4.0 sacks, five tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries. The 4.0 sacks, including 2.0 while blitzing in Detroit, led all rookies for the month and placed Kendricks in a tie with New Orleans LB Hau'oli Kikaha for most QB takedowns by a rookie.

Kendricks also has broken up three passes when dropping into coverage, including a pair against the Chiefs to seal Minnesota's 16-10 victory over Kansas City.

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said the early success is reinforcement of what evaluators saw out of Kendricks in college, his ability to learn quickly and teammates around him.

"He learns from his mistakes, he does a good job of studying and transferring from the classroom to the field, so we're glad he is where he is," Edwards said. "But, we also realize it's a team sport, and I think he'll tell you that he's got a lot of good veterans around him that have helped him and that's a big part of who we are on defense is everybody working together to accomplish the goals that we set each week."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer concurred, saying, "He's picked stuff up and done a good job, but the other guys that are out there playing have helped him and helped him understand things."

"He's made some plays because other guys have allowed him to make plays," Zimmer added. "It's nice for him, but he probably should give it to 10 other guys."

In a follow-up question that acknowledge Zimmer's focus on team accomplishments over individual awards, Zimmer does have one that he'd readily see a player on his team receive.

"Super Bowl MVP," Zimmer said. "That means we won, probably."

Zimmer would know. He was Cowboys defensive backs coach when Dallas won Super Bowl XXX and the MVP trophy went to cornerback Larry Brown for his two interceptions. Brown's selection is one of eight times out of 49 Super Bowls that a defensive players have been selected.

Kendricks is the third Vikings defender to be named Rookie of the Month, joining LB Dwayne Rudd (December 1997) and DT Kevin Williams (December 2003). Offensive players who have won the award are: WR Randy Moss (November 1998), RB Adrian Peterson (September and October 2007), WR Percy Harvin (November 2009) and Cordarrelle Patterson (December 2013).

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