EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings fans are expecting big things from linebacker Eric Kendricks on Sunday.
Kendricks earned the most votes in our "Filtered by the Fan" Twitter poll, which this week asked which Vikings defensive player will have "the biggest game" against the Titans. The linebacker received 35.3 percent of the more than 6,200 votes.
The race was a close one, though, especially between the second- and third-place vote-getters. Safety Harrison Smith received 26.9 percent of the votes, while defensive end Yannick Ngakoue fell just behind with 26.4 percent. A category of "Other" combined for 11.4 percent.
Minnesota last played Tennessee (excluding preseason) in the 2016 season opener.
Late in the third quarter, Kendricks intercepted Marcus Mariota and returned the first pick of his career 77 yards for a touchdown. Kendricks also had six tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass defensed in the Vikings 25-16 road win.
The play marked one of two career pick-sixes for Kendricks but is by far (no pun intended) the longest. He also returned an interception of Andy Dalton 31 yards for a score in December 2017.
Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whom the Titans acquired via trade in March 2019, hasn't thrown an interception in 2020. Titans running back Derrick Henry also will be a tough test for Minnesota’s defense.
At Tennessee in 2016, Smith was the team's second-leading tackler behind Trae Waynes with eight stops.
Interestingly, Kendricks isn't the only Viking with a defensive touchdown against the Titans (Danielle Hunter returned a Mariota fumble for a touchdown in the same game but is on Injured Reserve right now).
Ngakoue, whom the Vikings signed as a free agent in August, is more familiar with the AFC South team after sharing the division with them for four seasons.
During his time with the Jaguars, Ngakoue recorded 2.0 sacks, eight tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, a pass defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. One of his two career touchdowns occurred against Tennessee in 2017, when he recovered a fumble and returned it 67 yards to the end zone.
Other Vikings "written in" by fans in the poll's comments included safety Anthony Harris, whom one fan predicted will snag an interception; Ifeadi Odenigbo; and Eric Wilson, who will be shouldering extra responsibility with Anthony Barr on Injured Reserve.