Mychal Kendricks started his first NFL game since September, and played nearly every snap in his return to CenturyLink Field on Monday night.
“It went well,” Kendricks said. “I didn’t see too much action in the middle, but I feel like my coverage was really on point. The defense played really well, and we came out with a victory.”
Kendricks, playing his first game after serving an eight-week suspension, was on the field for 43 snaps in the Seahawks’ 21-7 win over Minnesota, and provided a steady presence in the middle, as Seattle shut out the Vikings until the final two minutes.
“I saw him on a handful of plays when he really had something to do,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I thought he was right there where he was supposed to be a couple of times. He made some good tackles in the open field. Forced a screen beautifully. He’s a really good football player. We’re excited to have him out there. I think he makes us better.”
Saturday, after wrapping up two weeks of practice leading up to his return, Kendricks noted his anticipation to return, and contributed five tackles to a defensive effort that was the decisive factor in lifting the Seahawks to the win.
“Words can’t explain the energy I had out here today and all week,” Kendricks said last week. “I’m just excited to be back.”
The NFL suspended Kendricks, who started for Philadelphia in last year’s Super Bowl win, after he pleaded guilty to an insider trading charge in August.
The league announced in October that Kendricks, who reportedly made $1.2 million on illegal deals between 2014-15, while with the Eagles, would miss the eight-week span.
He was eligible to return to the team two weeks ago, after training on his own during a trip to Arizona, and worked to fit back in to Seattle’s game plan. He said the practices leading up to Monday translated well.
“It was a lot being out for eight weeks, but getting back with the guys, getting acclimated to the system and practicing well turned over to the game, and the game was just like practice,” Kendricks said.
Despite a statistically quiet outing, he played the majority of Seattle’s 56 defensive snaps, and only left in the first half on a handful of third-down plays when the the Seahawks switched up personnel.
He exited for one play in the third quarter after he was shaken up on a tackle, but returned a play later, and didn’t leave again until Minnesota’s final two drives of the game, when Seattle already had a two-possession lead.
Kendricks said he held up well to playing the majority of the game — during which the Seahawks limited Minnesota to 276 yards of offense — and felt he was prepared.
“I’m actually, surprisingly, not that tired,” he said. “So, I was like, over prepared, probably. It was fun. It was good.”
Seattle allowed just two third down conversions on 10 attempts during the game, and held the Vikings on fourth down twice, including once at the goal line.
And, with Kendricks patrolling the middle of the field, the Vikings managed just 77 rushing yards, and much of their offensive production came late in the second half with Seattle controlling the lead.
“We knew that they liked to come out running the ball,” he said. “That’s what one of their strengths is. We knew that was coming.”
The Vikings scored their only touchdown with one minute, 10 seconds to play, after Kendricks’ night had already ended. Seattle held a 21-0 lead at that point.
In addition to appearing in his first game since Seattle’s win at Arizona in Week 4, Kendricks was also playing against his brother, Eric, who picked off Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the end of the first half.
Kendricks said last week he gets “nervous and anxious” watching his brother play, but still saw the catch that stalled a promising Seahawks drive in the red zone with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter, sending Seattle into the half with a slim 3-0 lead.
“I actually still tried not to watch,” Kendricks said. “I saw him get the pick. Christmas came early for him. But, it was good to be out there with my brother. It was good to be out there with my teammates. It was good to be back out there period.”
After being released by the Eagles last spring, Kendricks signed a one-year deal with Cleveland, but was ultimately released after he was charged.
Seattle signed Kendricks in September, and he collected 15 total tackles, four for losses and a sack in his three games before suspension. He is expected to be sentenced in January, and could face prison time.
“Obviously, that’s a thought that stays in the back of your mind, but you just take it every day as it is, day by day just like today,” Kendricks said last week. “I’m going to be where my feet are. I’m not going to harp on the past. I’m not going to predict the future. I’m just going to be right where I’m at so take it day by day.”