Surprise: Sendejo gets the start for Vikings over Blanton

Andrew Sendejo
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Robert Blanton had run all offseason and preseason as the starter at safety next to Harrison Smith.

For the first game of the regular season, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is returning to the alignment he finished last season with. Prior to Monday night’s game at San Francisco, Andrew Sendejo was named the starter at safety.

The move might not be a complete surprise after hearing Zimmer this week.

Zimmer was asked to assess Blanton’s preseason and replied, “He did well. He did well.

“Sometimes Robert, he’s always wanting to make plays and sometimes he needs to just make the safe play as opposed to trying to go get other things. He’s got his strengths and hopefully we can play to those.”

Zimmer was asked which safety has been the most consistent of those who have played next to Smith.

“Probably Sendejo, or Blanton,” Zimmer said.

So, Zimmer will go back to how Minnesota ended last season. Blanton, who led the Vikings with 106 tackles, started the first 14 games last year before missing a game with an injury. Sendejo started in his place and didn’t give the starting job back after Blanton returned for the final two games.

Minnesota also announced Gerald Hodges would start at middle linebacker after a preseason competition. Hodges will be in the middle in the Vikings’ base 4-3 defense. Rookie Eric Kendricks will likely play a lot and is expected to be on the field in nickel situations.