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Role Call: Eric Kendricks ready to play & teach


(Editor's Note: As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. We'll begin with Eric Kendricks.)

How He Got Here: The Cowboys barely any significant moves in free agency regarding outside players, but the one exception is Kendricks. The veteran linebacker not only fills an immediate need at the position, especially with the retirement of Leighton Vander Esch, but he's actually the only player with inside knowledge of Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme. Kendricks spent his first eight years with the Vikings, including X coached by Zimmer, who was the head coach and defensive coordinator for the majority of the time. Kendricks, who made a Pro Bowl in 2019, spent last season with the Chargers. As a free agent, Kendricks signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys to reunite with Zimmer.

What's Next: It's no secret, the Cowboys needed to get better at linebacker. In the previous scheme, the team used more smaller, but quicker linebackers to help get off the field in third-down situations. The problem was, stopping the run became an issue, especially in the losses. The three games in which the Cowboys yielded the most rushing yards, were all double-digit losses on the road. Players like Kendricks should be able to solidify the run game and do it under Zimmer's scheme where he should have plenty of familiarity with. The Cowboys are getting DeMarvion Overshown back from injury and added rookie Marist Liafau, but Kendricks is not only expected to be a big-time player in this defense, but a mentor to the younger guys as well.

Did You Know: Last year with the Chargers, Kendricks racked up over 100 tackles, marking the eighth straight season of his nine-year career with the century mark. Only his rookie year in 2015 did Kendricks fall short of 100 tackles as he finished with 92.

Quotable: "I've been in this system for seven years. It's something I'm very familiar with. We're gonna be doing different things here and there, especially with the personnel that we have here. I think it's good that, especially from someone who's giving the calls in the huddle, it can be a singular voice right now — especially as everyone is learning." Kendricks on what he brings to Zimmer's defense here in Dallas.

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