Wake-Up Call: Kendricks ‘Humble And Hungry’

USATSI_7482059_168380503_lowresTen tackles per game.

That’s the number Mychal Kendricks guns for. His brother (also a football player) preached that if you reach that mark regularly, you’re set. And so that became the standard.

Earlier this season, the chase for 10 got him in trouble. He kept count in his head during the game. If he had only four, say, deep into the third quarter, Kendricks would start pressing. Would ask DeMeco Ryans how many he had. Ryans never had an answer because he knew better than to keep track.

“He was always in the game, [asking]: ‘How many you got?’ I’m like, ‘Man, let’s go play. We’ll see how it [comes out] at the end of the game.’ It’s not something you worry about. You go out and do your job and plays will start coming to you. When you try to force things, that’s when it seems like it’s the hardest to make a play.”

Kendricks  missed eight tackles over his first three games. He has seven in his last six outings. Not perfect but more steady. And Ryans was right: playing more within himself, Kendricks has posted double-digit tackles in each of the last two games, and picked up his first sack of the season Sunday in Oakland.

“He stopped worrying about it,” said Ryans, “and now he’s making a lot of plays.”

He just had to be himself. That was true on a couple levels.

Kendricks is a vocal player. You’ll see him barking pregame, on the sidelines in-game, and he isn’t shy about talking trash on the field. As a rookie, though, he curbed that element of his game after hearing it from one of the veterans.

“I remember last preseason against the Patriots, the first game, I’m juiced. I was excited as hell, and it’s the preseason. I’m hyped up, I’m yelling at these vets who have already been here so they’re not tripping on this stuff,” said Kendricks.

“DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] was like, ‘Man, shut the [expletive] up. It’s preseason.’ And I wasn’t even thinking of it like that. It’s an emotional game for me…After that I never said nothing the whole year.

“I can talk to these guys now because I know this thing like the back of my hand. We have a lot of young guys on the team. Everybody is pretty much in my age group. You have to understand last year we had [Cullen] Jenkins, we had [Jason] Babin, we had Trent [Cole], all these guys that were so much older and so much more experienced than me. I had no clout. But now we changed our defense and I played in a 3-4 — Trent Cole is asking me for advice because I played outside linebacker in college.”

The second-year ‘backer out of Cal is settling in, getting more comfortable with his role on the team. He’s not tracking his tackles in-game anymore, though 10 still has meaning. He wants to be one of the best in the NFL and if he can hit that mark routinely, he figures he’ll be on track.

“He’s hungry to be the best and when you have that type of drive, that’s what you want from a player,” said Ryans. “He’s never satisfied, he’s always hungry to do more and achieve high goals for himself. For him to have that attitude, that’s the way he should [be]: humble and hungry.”


Sheil takes a look at blocking at the second level with the help of the All-22 and Jason Kelce.

Judging by Chip Kelly‘s comments, Michael Vick isn’t very close to a return. 

Kapadia focuses in on the Eagles’ pass rush.


Geoff Mosher writes that the early returns are good from this rookie class.

Lane Johnson has started every game at right tackle for the NFL’s fourth-ranked offense. Zach Ertz has more catches and receptions than any other Eagles tight end. Earl Wolff is gearing up for his sixth start in 10 games and Bennie Logan is coming off an impressive starting debut last Sunday.

The common thread? They’re all rookies…

“This was huge for us,” center Jason Kelce said. “I think the year I was drafted (2011) we had a lot of guys who are no longer with the team, unfortunately. So to see this many rookies contribute and doing well, that’ll be able to balance that out a little bit.”

ESPN Packers blogger Kevin Seifert talks about the suddenly unsettled QB situation in Green Bay.

Seneca Wallace is the backup only because he was available when they realized none of the players they took to training camp was up to the job. He is 6-15 in his career as a starter, and his career seemed over in August 2012 when the Cleveland Browns released him.

The Packers’ entire scheme is built around Rodgers doing things that only Rodgers can do. Think of what happened when the Indianapolis Colts played without Peyton Manning in 2011. The Packers will need to make fundamental changes to their offense — and expect substantial elevation in other areas of their team — to make it through this wilderness.


We’ll roll out our predictions for Eagles-Packers.

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