Sure, it’s just the preseason and preseason performances tend to fade like summer memories when September rolls around. But linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been all over the football in the Eagles’ two preseason games and his work has been extremely encouraging.
“I’m just trying to make some plays,” Kendricks said after Thursday’s 20-16 preseason win over Buffalo. “It’s only the preseason so they aren’t keeping stats, but it felt good to get out there and get my hands on the ball.”
In the two preseason games, Kendricks has a pair of interceptions and a quarterback sack. He also displayed excellent discipline and precise tackling in the open field against Buffalo by blowing up a screen pass.
Kendricks, the topic of a lot of offseason rumors and who, in fact, told reporters earlier in Training Camp that he would welcome a chance for more playing time, appears extremely comfortable in his second season in Jim Schwartz’s defense.
The challenge, for Kendricks and the Eagles, is that Schwartz plays a lot of nickel defense, with a fifth defensive back on the field and only two linebackers, usually Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks, among the 11 players lined up.
Kendricks is the third linebacker in that two-linebacker personnel grouping.
Thus, the trade chatter in the media.
“He's been a pro's pro. He's a guy that's come in every day and it's his second year in the system, so he's really making a lot of strides right there. He's put himself in great positions,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He's had a couple turnovers now in these first two games, or some takeaways. It's exciting to see. You know, he's a guy that's very athletic. You can see his athleticism on some of the tackles he makes in the open field. Obviously, you know, Jim uses him in a little bit of a blitz package tonight. He can definitely put some pressure on the quarterback.
“It’s exciting to see where he's at. (I’m) very comfortable with that, and we've just got to keep them coming.”
When told of Pederson’s comments, Kendricks was touched.
“I respect that and it’s very honorable. I really appreciate it,” he said.
As for what’s next, Kendricks understands the business. A second-round draft pick in 2012, Kendricks’s role with the Eagles has gone up and down. He played in 88 percent of the defense’s snaps in 2012, 83 percent the next season, and 66 percent of the snaps in 2014 before signing a four-year contract prior to the 2015 season.
In ’15, Kendricks’ snap percentage dropped to 52 percent and last year, the first with Schwartz as defensive coordinator, Kendricks played in only 27 percent of the snaps on defense.
“I’m blessed, and that’s the God’s honest truth,” Kendricks said. “There are so many things wrong with this world today and so many things going on that you look at your situation and it’s not that bad. I just try to approach every day with an attitude of gratitude and I keep balling.”