It's no secret that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gave his rookies chances to play major roles in Sunday's 16-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
WR Stefon Diggs, MLB Eric Kendricks and DE Danielle Hunter each answered the call in big moments to help Minnesota pull off the win.
Zimmer told the media after the game that he looks at his rookies the same as the rest of the players on his team.
"Doesn't mean anything to me," Zimmer said. "Rookie, 10-year guy, I don't care; let's just go play. I don't really care. In my eyes, they're football players, not rookies."
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press highlighted the rookies who "played like veterans" on Sunday.
*In their 16-10 victory over Kansas City at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings started four rookies. Two of them starred and one made perhaps the play of the game. *
*On offense, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, a fifth-round draft pick making his first career start, caught seven passes for 129 yards. On defense, middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, a second-round selection taking over after Minnesota had traded Gerald Hodges to make room for him, had a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack. *
*Perhaps the biggest play came from defensive end Danielle Hunter, a third-round pick who made his first career start in place of Everson Griffen, who was out because of illness. With 4:32 left in the game and the Vikings clinging to a 16-10 lead, Hunter knocked the ball out of the hands of running back Charcandrick West, and Brian Robison recovered at the Minnesota 38. *
Kendricks impressive in the middle of the defense
Erik Kendricks started his second game of the season at middle linebacker for the Vikings and played his first game at the position since Minnesota traded away former MLB Gerald Hodges Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers.
Kendricks had his second consecutive game with a sack and the youngster from UCLA impressed his head coach against the Chiefs on third down.
"I thought we did a good job on third downs all day," Zimmer said. "I don't remember what the stats were, but I thought we did a good job there. They're trying to do things the right way. I thought [Eric] Kendricks, he showed up a lot today."
Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press wrote about the play of the energetic middle linebacker.
*After he sacked Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the first quarter Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium, Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks pounded his chest. An excited and exuberant Kendricks could be a familiar sight during Vikings games for years to come. *
*Installed as the starting middle linebacker against Denver, the rookie from UCLA made his second start Sunday in the Vikings' 16-10 victory over the Chiefs and finished with a game-high nine solo tackles, one assisted tackle, one sack, one tackle for a loss, one quarterback hurry and one pass defensed. *
Diggs' potential noticed by veterans
Stefon Diggs led all Vikings and Chiefs receivers with 129 yards on Sunday. Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater connected with Diggs on a number out routes and showed that he has in trust in the rookie wide receiver.
"This week, Stefon did a great job for us when things were going slow," Bridgewater said. "We're going to continue to expect some big things from him and that entire wide receiver unit. We know that this league waits for no one, with all the young guys stepping up making big plays in this league, I'm happy to see Stefon contribute for the Vikings,"
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune wrote about how some of the veteran Vikings reacted to Diggs' breakout performance.
*The Vikings' rookie receiver made his first NFL start and caught seven passes for 129 yards. In his first two NFL games, Diggs has produced 13 catches for 216 yards, prompting his teammates to speak of him in terms usually reserved for stars, not fifth-round draft picks.
"He's polished,'' veteran cornerback Terence Newman said. "Runs good routes. Quick as a hiccup. Very smooth. When I first got here I was like, 'Hey, who is this kid?' I was impressed with him from Day 1.
"If he keeps his head on straight and keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be one to watch. Potential Hall of Famer, down the road.''
Fellow veteran corner Captain Munnerlyn nodded emphatically. "He's so special,'' Munnerlyn said. "He's one of the most polished receivers I've ever seen come out of college. I'm glad he dropped into our hands. I feel like we got the steal of the draft. Great routes, great hands, works hard, great attitude.''
Zimmer gets Waynes involved
In the postgame press conference, Zimmer made note that he wanted to involve another rookie in the Vikings gameplan.
CB Trae Waynes was given the opportunity to give veteran CB Terence Newman a breather on Sunday.
"I just wanted to get him some plays," Zimmer said. 'I talked to Terence [Newman] during the week and said I want to get Trae [Waynes] in there some. Terence is 37 and he got hurt for a minute too, but just get him some more playing time. He's earned it, he's doing a good job.'
Adrian Peterson passes two players on NFL's all-time rushing list the FOX Sports Staff noted.
When push came to shove, Vikings' run defense won out writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
ESPN's Ben Goessling writes that the Vikings stand tall in fourth quarter to hang on for win over Chiefs.