For Sendejo, familiarity with special teams should help the late start
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Andrew Sendejo has been a standout special teams performer for Mike Priefer since he appeared in the last 11 games of 2012.
The Minnesota Vikings re-signed Sendejo, who has missed all of 2014 so far recovering from back surgery and an ankle ailment, to a two-year contract extension last fall in part because of his versatility as a special teams cog.
As he returns to the field for the first time on Monday, he'll do so with a solid foundation of how Priefer's special teams work as he tries to make a late impression on defense with head coach Mike Zimmer.
"As long as he's physically ready, mentally not at all [worried]," Priefer said. "He's very intelligent. He's like a coach in our meetings, asks great questions. Like I've told guys before, i've learned every single day from players brining up ideas because they're the ones out there doing it...and [Sendejo] is one of those guys."
The Vikings extended Sendejo before he started a single one of his 10 starts he made at safety last season in place of Harrison Smith, who landed on injured reserve after Week 4. Sendejo figured to be in contention for the starting job alongside Smith, but a late start likely stunts his shot at doing so right out of the gate.
"I don't think it is complicated," Zimmer said. "But there are some things to be precise in your alignments. We ask them to be pretty disciplined in their movements, when they're going places, where the checks are, especially when you get a lot of movement from the offense, it makes it a little bit more difficult."
However, the extension along with his extensive experience on special teams puts him ahead of the curve as he competes for a 53-man roster spot alongside free agent addition Kurt Coleman and rookie Antone Exum. Don't rule out a waiver wire addition either as the Vikings evaluate other rosters and watch for cuts at the safety position.
Blanton is expected to at least miss the first preseason game on Friday, per Zimmer.
Sendejo will start off with individual drills on Monday, his first practice of the season, and may get in on team drills if all goes well.
"We're going to watch him as he goes and be careful with him," Zimmer said. "I need to see him."