In two preseason games, second-round pick Mychal Kendricks leads the team with 11 total tackles and is tied for second on the team with three tackles for loss.
The starting strongside linebacker from California has the speed and athletic ability to make plays all over the field. He's also shown the instincts to read and diagnose plays instantly to disrupt them in the backfield before they can take develop.
How has the 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year been able to make such a smooth transition from the college game?
"He's dedicated to studying and knowing everything about his position. He doesn't mind asking questions," All-Pro middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "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, alignment. He wants to know every intricate detail of his job and that makes a difference."
Kendricks simply recognizes that playing a different position - he was a middle linebacker at California - on a new team is naturally going to lead to questions.
"Closed mouths don't get fed. No question is ever a stupid question, so I'm not against to ask a question if I don't know. It'd be bad if I didn't know and I went out there and tried to act like I know," Kendricks said. "These guys have more experience than me. The coaches know what they are talking about. I'm just walking into a new situation. Questions are inevitable and they are necessary."
Ryans knows what it's like to succeed as a rookie. A second-round pick of the Texans in 2006, Ryans earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after notching a career-high 156 tackles, 3.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He thinks Kendricks can have similar success right away.
"He can be a Defensive Rookie of the Year-type player with the playmaking ability that he has," Ryans said.
"He's a very instinctive guy. He sees the game a lot better. He's making a lot of plays for us. He's very athletic, fast guy. It's special to watch him grow into a player. He's going to be a really great player."
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