Seahawks' Kendricks slated to play against Vikings after 8-game suspension
RENTON, Wash. - Bobby Wagner knows what Mychal Kendricks is capable of.
He saw it up close for a handful of games earlier this season -- before he was forced to keep his distance from the team, before the NFL's punishment for his role in insider trading. Kendricks was a more than serviceable partner at weakside, a position which at times has felt like a revolving door for the Seahawks.
Now Kendricks returns as Seattle prepares to finish the regular season with a playoff spot.
"I expect him to come in, learn and just fly around and make plays," linebacker Bobby Wagner told reporters Thursday. "He hasn't been around to study the defense the way that most people can so you've just got to try to catch him up and help him out as much as we can."
Kendricks is game-eligible this week, for the Seahawks' Monday Night Football showdown against the Minnesota Vikings, for the first time since serving his eight-game suspension. Head coach Pete Carroll has said the veteran linebacker will play, but practice this week will determine how much (he started practicing last week). Austin Calitro has been solid at WLB in recent weeks, so there isn't a rush to see him get a full snap count.
In a limited sample size earlier this season, Kendricks displayed a glimpse of the speed and playmaking ability that made him a second-round pick in 2012. He recorded 15 tackles, two sacks and a pass defensed in four games. He was signed ahead of Week 2 when Seattle had depth concerns at linebacker.
"We're sitting back and we're waiting to see what we've been missing," defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said of Kendricks' return. "I think we've watched his career over the years, but we'll see what happens after being off eight weeks."
The team Kendricks rejoins has a different outlook than it had at the beginning of the season. With a massive roster turnover, and injuries to Earl Thomas and Will Dissly, the playoffs seemed liked a reach. Now, they're essentially a guarantee. The Seahawks are 7-5, riding a three-game winning streak and are in control of the top Wild Card spot in the NFC. It would take a massive flop for them to miss the postseason for a second consecutive season.
As Seattle closes the season, with four regular-season games left, perhaps Kendricks can provide a leadership presence? He was on the Philadelphia Eagles' Super-Bowl winning team last year. He's a veteran (though not with the Seahawks). With so much youth on the team, maybe he's a guy to look up to -- like Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin or Bobby Wagner.
Carroll, however, just wants him to play football -- for now.
"He really understands the game," Carroll said. "He picks things up really quickly, he's really savvy and into it and in that regard, when he's here long enough, he will rub off on other guys because you just can't help but notice it. He's really focused and it's really important for him to do great. That's a terrific model, so that's leadership in itself.
"I don't think he's had enough time to have the impact yet, but hopefully he will."
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