EAGAN, Minn. — The 2022 Vikings inside linebackers room included established veterans and some new faces.
Leading the way was eight-year starter Eric Kendricks, who was named a team captain this past season for the first time in his career.
Jordan Hicks was also in his eighth NFL season in 2022, but it was his first with the Vikings after spending four years in Philadelphia and three in Arizona. Kendricks (45th overall by Minnesota) and Hicks (84th overall by the Eagles) were drafted just 39 selections apart in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Kendricks and Hicks immediately clicked in their first season as teammates, finishing first and second in tackling for the Vikings, respectively.
View the best photos of inside linebackers, Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Brian Asamoah II and Troy Dye during the 2022 season.
Minnesota's inside linebackers were also key contributors in creating turnovers. Hicks and rookie Brian Asamoah II each forced a fumble, and Kendricks, Troy Dye and Asamoah had a recovery apiece. Hicks also recorded an interception.
Kendricks played a full season for the second time in his career while Hicks strung together his fourth consecutive season of playing in every game.
Dye and Ryan Connelly each played their third seasons with Minnesota (fourth overall in the NFL for Connelly, who was on the practice squad for most of the season), and Asamoah and William Kwenkeu each got their NFL journeys started in purple. Asamoah was selected 66th overall, and Kwenkeu joined Minnesota as an undrafted free agent.
The four reserve players mainly contributed on special teams.
Notable Numbers: 137 & 129
Kendricks recorded 137 tackles in 2022, the second-highest total in his career (143 in 2021). It was also good enough to place him 14th in the NFL this season in the category.
Kendricks has recorded at least 100 tackles in each season except his rookie campaign in 2015, where he finished just eight shy of the century mark.
Hicks tallied 129 tackles in 2022, which ranked 18th in the NFL. It was his fourth consecutive season with at least 100 tackles and the second-most he's had in his career (149 with Arizona in 2019).
The Vikings run of six consecutive one-score victories was on the verge of collapsing at the half-yard line in Buffalo in Week 10.
After an unsuccessful quarterback sneak by Kirk Cousins on fourth-and-inches gave the ball back to the Bills, Buffalo's Josh Allen tried to execute a sneak of his own. But as Allen attempted to escape Buffalo's end zone, he lost the football during the snap. Kendricks secured it in the end zone for a touchdown, giving Minnesota the lead with 41 seconds remaining.
The Bills tied the game on a 29-yard field goal by Tyler Bass with two seconds remaining to force overtime before Minnesota opened overtime with a 33-yard field goal by Greg Joseph with 3:42 left. The Vikings then used a Patrick Peterson interception in the end zone to capture their seventh consecutive victory.
Recorded 137 tackles (87 solo), 1.0 sack, eight tackles for loss, six passes defended, one fumble recovery (for a touchdown); started 17 games and played 1,095 of 1,161 defensive snaps (94.3 percent)
Registered 129 tackles (86 solo), 3.0 sacks, two tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, one interception, one forced fumble; started 17 games and played 935 defensive snaps (80.5 percent)
Brian Asamoah II
Recorded 15 tackles (nine solo), one forced fumble, one fumble recovery; played 119 defensive snaps (10.3 percent) across 16 games
Recorded four tackles (one solo); ranked third on the team with eight special teams tackles and recovered one fumble; played 40 defensive snaps (3.5 percent) across 17 games
Recorded one tackle (solo and for a loss); added a special teams tackle; played 13 defensive snaps (1.1 percent) across six games
Recorded one solo tackle; played 16 defensive snaps (1.4 percent) in one game
The highest highs
1. It didn't take very long for Hicks to feel comfortable in a Vikings uniform.
The Minnesota linebacker recorded a season-high 14 tackles and a sack in a 23-7 victory against Green Bay in Week 1.
2. After producing just a pair of tackles against Dallas on Nov. 20, Kendricks bounced back in a strong way, registering at least eight tackles in five consecutive games. He was particularly red-hot at home in the month of December, recording double-digit tackles (13 against the Jets, 12 against the Colts and 10 against the Giants) in three consecutive victories. He also added a sack against Indianapolis.
The lowest lows
1. After a strong Vikings debut, Hicks faced the team that drafted him the following week, as Minnesota traveled to Philadelphia for its first road game of the season.
The Vikings defense struggled to contain quarterback Jalen Hurts in a 24-7 loss on Monday Night Football. Aside from a fourth-quarter interception, Hicks only recorded three tackles against his former team.
2. Minnesota's second loss of the season didn't come until Week 11, but it was far from an improvement from its first one in Week 2.
Defensively, the Vikings allowed Dallas to put up 40 points and 458 yards of total offense in a 40-3 landslide.
After leading the team in tackles and providing the late-game heroics the week prior in Buffalo, Kendricks struggled to make his presence felt against the Cowboys, registering a season-low two tackles.
2 pressing questions for 2023
1. What will be the Vikings defensive scheme next year?
The Vikings moved to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2022 for the first time since 1985. The results weren't very flattering, as Minnesota finished 31st in total yards allowed (6,608) and tied for 30th in points allowed (427).
Minnesota is preparing to hire its second defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Once that decision has been made, another crucial one will be whether the Vikings will stay in their current base or revert to their previous scheme.
Kendricks and Hicks spent much of their careers in 4-3 bases, so if the Vikings return to it in 2023, it should be an easy transition after a year in 3-4.
2. Will the reserves earn more opportunities?
Although Kendricks and Hicks each played a huge part in the Vikings defense, both will be 31 at the start of next season.
Asamoah spent most of the season with special teams but earned valuable reps on defense late in the year. The 2022 third-round pick could see an increased role in his second year in purple and learn more under Kendricks and/or Hicks if one or both players are still on the roster in 2023.
Like Asamoah, Dye and Kwenkeu contributed mainly on special teams but had limited reps on defense.
Connelly saw just a combined 29 snaps on defense and special teams in 2022. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Saints last week.