Around the Novacare Complex, this is about the extent of hazing that takes place under Andy Reid’s watch. But when Kendricks got stopped by a handful of reporters, he figured Ryans would probably want the helmet back since he was going to the locker room.
The veteran had other ideas and waved him off. All Kendricks could do was hold on to it or risk a penalty from his peers.
“Just showing up to meetings, I walk in, and they’re like ‘You got a fine. You walked in funny,’” Kendricks explained.
“There’s no actual reason why or a particular thing that they want to fine me for. They just want to do it, so it’s just part of being a rookie.”
Part of being a rookie is also learning, asking questions and figuring things out on the fly. That part seems to be coming naturally for Kendricks, who is in line to be a three-down player in his first NFL season, playing SAM in the Eagles’ base defense and staying on the field alongside Ryans in the nickel package.
Against the Patriots, Kendricks was arguably the Eagles’ best defensive player, and when he made a mistake, he corrected it – something that got head coach Andy Reid’s attention.
“You look at this from a coaching standpoint, the mistakes that he made in the game, they repeated a couple of those plays and he came back and made the plays,” Reid said. “Screen game, a couple of the draws, he came back and made plays on those and there was a trap play in there. Did a nice job with that.”
It’s not only the coaches who are impressed with Kendricks, but his peers as well. About four hours before he was making Kendricks carry his helmet, Ryans was standing at his locker, explaining why his teammate has a chance to be really good right away.
“He’s dedicated to studying and knowing everything about his position,” Ryans said. “He doesn’t mind asking questions. A lot of young guys are afraid to ask questions, but Mychal, he’s very inquisitive about what he should be doing on certain plays, alignments. He wants to know every intricate detail of his job, and that’s what makes him different.”
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed – that’s how Kendricks put it.
“These guys have more experience than me,” he said. “The coaches know what they’re talking about, and I’m just walking into a new situation. So the questions are inevitable and they’re necessary.
“When I ask a question, the help that they give me is incredible. I mean, they go in such depth, and if I don’t get it the first time, we’re going to go over it again and again and again until I get it.”
In Ryans, Kendricks has an ideal mentor. Universally lauded as a great teammate in Houston, he knows a thing or two about successfully adjusting as a rookie. A second-round pick in 2006, Ryans started 16 games in his first season and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
“He can definitely get it done,” Ryans said. “He can be a defensive rookie of the year type player, the type of playmaking ability that he has. I’ll just continue to work with him on seeing the game, knowing what to expect out of certain formations, certain sets, just becoming even smarter as a linebacker.”
And of course, Ryans will offer up his helmet.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.