Vikings' Eric Kendricks named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks is up for NFL Rookie of the Week honors for the second consecutive week, and he snagged an even bigger honor Thursday morning.

Kendricks was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for October, when he had four sacks and 20 combined tackles. The Vikings had their bye on Oct. 11, so Kendricks piled up those numbers in just three games. After the team traded Gerald Hodges to San Francisco during its bye week, Kendricks has slid smoothly into the middle linebacker spot while continuing his work in the nickel defense.

The Vikings had targeted Kendricks among the linebacker options for their defense, and it looks as though they've got a linebacker core to build around in Kendricks and his former college roommate, Anthony Barr. Kendricks admitted he had some things to learn about rushing the passer when he came to the Vikings, but he's feasted on free rushes to the quarterback out of the Vikings' double-A gap-blitz look, and his speed has helped him make plays against the run. In a 2015 Vikings draft that's providing strong early returns, Kendricks is the biggest defensive standout.

He's the first Vikings defensive player to win Rookie of the Month honors since Kevin Williams did it in 2003, and the eighth to win it overall. The last Vikings player to be selected Rookie of the Month was Cordarrelle Patterson in December 2013.