News | Minnesota Vikings – vikings.com

Eric Kendricks looking to build on 1st start

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Eric Kendricks managed to visit family during the bye and watch football Sunday.

The rookie linebacker, however, said doing the latter made him a "little anxious" to get back to action.

Following last week's trade of linebacker Gerald Hodges to San Francisco for rookie center Nick Easton and a sixth-round pick, Kendricks might have more action waiting on him Sunday when the Vikings (2-2) host the Chiefs (1-4) and noon (CT) Sunday.

"I'm just going to keep doing what I do, working hard and trying to fit in the scheme of the defense, doing my job most importantly and fitting off everybody else," Kendricks said. "I'm not worried about the trade. I'm worried about what I've got to do and that's focus on Kansas City and what I've got to do in this defense."

Kendricks started at Denver when the Vikings opened the game in the nickel package. He recorded his first career sack against Peyton Manning. He said he's feeling more comfortable in the NFL and thought the bye week offered an opportunity to rest and review.

"I'm getting more comfortable out there, getting used to the speed of the game, but I have a lot to improve. I'm excited for this challenge," Kendricks said. "It was good for learning and resting my body. I've been on the go since the (NFL) Combine, so it was nice to unwind, hang out with some family and get focused on this next week."

Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Kendricks "has done a good job and basically he has been a starter."

Newest Viking: Easton quickly relocated from the Bay Area to Minnesota last week, packing a couple of bags he took with him after Baltimore traded him to San Francisco at the start of the season.

"There's a lot of good guys ahead of me. Older guys I can learn from, so it's just a good opportunity," Easton said. "I've been traded once this season, so it wasn't that crazy to me to move across the country with a day's notice."

Easton played collegiately at Harvard and opted to sign with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent. He said he's acquainted with former Harvard, Vikings and Ravens center, All-Pro Matt Birk.

"He's come to some Harvard events and talked to the team while I was there, a really good guy," Easton said.

Zimmer said the Vikings liked Easton in pre-draft evaluations of prospects and in the preseason.

"He's got quickness, he's smart, he has some toughness," Zimmer said. "He's been spending a lot of time [getting caught up], he spent a lot of extra time last week. He's a pretty sharp guy; I think he'll get up to speed quickly."

Sullivan progressing: Vikings center John Sullivan, who is on the reserve/injured — designated to return list and ineligible to return to the active list until after the first eight weeks of the season, was able to do some running during the open period of practice.

He said it was his first time bearing his full weight and doing movement drills since undergoing a surgical procedure on his back at the beginning of September.

"It felt great. I think I'm allowed to practice next Wednesday," Sullivan said. "I'll just follow the treatment protocol."

Gloves up: Cornerback Xavier Rhodes wore boxing gloves during the open period of Vikings practice on Monday. Rhodes was flagged for pass interference twice against Denver.

Zimmer was asked if defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has ever used that teaching tactic before and said, "I don't know, you'd have to ask Jerry. I saw him, yes."

The gloves effectively keep a player from being able to grab a handful of jersey purposefully or inadvertently.

"It's really just a point emphasis of keeping an open hand," Zimmer said. "We're trying to fix everything that we can. Just a point of emphasis."

Open Mike: Zimmer was jovial in welcoming media back to Winter Park, opening his press conference by saying, "I know you all missed me, I missed you, too. It's a lovefest."

Later asked if he is worried the Vikings might overlook Kansas City because of the Chiefs four-game skid, Zimmer said, "No, not really. We've only won two games, so no, not at all.

"Our focus is on us and what we do and how we need to win and how we need to play and how we need to get better, how we need to perform in the crucial situations of the game," Zimmer said.

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