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Sendejo: Continuity Makes Defense 'Smoother'

They nearly met on the Norseman.

Harrison Smith had the ball in his sights, and so did Andrew Sendejo.

The Vikings safeties avoided contact with each other when Sendejo took the tighter angle and plucked the Brock Osweiler pass at midfield against the Texans in Week 5 last season. It was the first of a career-best two interceptions for Sendejo.

The pick against Houston, and an interception of Carson Wentz the following week in Philadelphia were, in part, functions of continuity.

Against the Eagles, Sendejo read the quick pass intended for tight end Brent Celek all the way and could see linebacker Eric Kendricks in excellent position to challenge the pass on the underneath side of the play. Sendejo corralled the pass at the Philadelphia 18 and returned it to the 2.

Sendejo has started all 27 games he's played in the past two seasons alongside Smith, who has also started all 27 games he's played. The duo has developed almost a sixth sense on the back end of Minnesota's defense that was third in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed in 2016.

"The more you're playing together, the more experience you have together, the more certain types of plays you've seen together, so you kind of know where to warn certain guys about things because it's happened to you in certain games," Sendejo said. "Everything just kind of jells, the communication, the fits, it makes everything a lot smoother."

Unfortunately, Sendejo was hurt at the end of the return against the Eagles, and the Vikings were denied the end zone. He was unable to play the following week at Chicago when a missed tackle led to a huge breakaway and the Bears first score of the game.

Sendejo, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Dallas, has complemented a secondary filled with former first-round picks: Smith, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Trae Waynes.

He's also fended off competition from other players while teaching them. The Vikings have added a safety (drafted or undrafted rookie free agent) in each of the past four offseasons: Antone Exum, Jr. in 2014, Anthony Harris in 2015, Jayron Kearse in 2016 and Jack Tocho this April.

Sendejo took first team reps during the team's Organized Team Activity practices and mandatory minicamp.

The Vikings are scheduled to report to training camp next month.

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