Vikings' Sendejo anxious to get back on the field after one-game suspension
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — While the Vikings defeated Cleveland in London, safety Andrew Sendejo was 4,000 miles away, yelling at his television.
Sendejo was suspended one game by the NFL for an illegal hit Oct. 22 that left Baltimore wide receiver Mike Wallace with a concussion. That meant Sendejo had to remain in Minnesota and miss the 33-16 win over the Browns on Oct. 29.
"It sucked,'' Sendejo said Monday, Nov. 6, about his suspension. "Watching on TV, you can't do anything about it. If you're in the game, you're fine, but when you're watching on TV you're just screaming at the TV.''
Sendejo was penalized for unnecessary roughness for the hit on Wallace, Sendejo's Minnesota teammate in 2015. In announcing the suspension, the NFL ruled the hit was "violently directed at the head and neck area.''
The suspension cost Sendejo $173,529, which is 1/17th of his $2.95 million base salary this season. Sendejo agreed with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who said he didn't believe a penalty should have been called because Wallace had established himself as a runner and it was a "glancing blow.''
"I wasn't surprised (Zimmer) was coming to my defense because that's what it was,'' said Sendejo, who will return Sunday at Washington following Minnesota's bye week. "But that's the ruling they made. ... We did the whole appeal process. Obviously, it didn't go my way, but it's in the past and there's nothing we can do about it now.
"I think everybody knows that I didn't mean (Wallace) any harm. I was just playing the game how you're supposed to play it. Play it hard.''
After the suspension, a number of Vikings players, including safety Harrison Smith, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Latavius Murray, wore homemade T-shirts that had written on the front with a marker "#FREEDEJO.'' Barr had one on when he arrived at London's Heathrow Airport.
"Custom-made shirts,'' Sendejo said. "So, yeah, it was good to get some support from the guys.''
Sendejo didn't put on one of the shirts.
"I don't actually have one of those,'' he said. "I think it was for everybody else to have it. I wouldn't feel right wearing my own T-shirt.''
Rhodes lauds Waynes
Rhodes has become a fixture as Minnesota's starting right cornerback. He likes what he's seeing from the starting left cornerback.
Trae Waynes took over the job this year for the first time on a full-time basis. After having plenty of growing pains in his first two seasons, Waynes has made strides.
"Confidence,'' Rhodes said. "He's going out there and turning his head around and getting to the ball.''
Rhodes said the 6-foot, 200-pound Waynes is also doing well in the run game. He is tied for fourth on the team with 42 tackles.
"I told Trae when he first got here, 'You're too small. I don't think you're ever going to come up and make a tackle,' '' Rhodes said. "He proved me wrong on that because this year he's coming down and he's showing a lot of heart in that aspect of his game.''
Will the Vikings on Sunday say goodbye to their post-bye blues?
The Vikings have lost their first game following a bye week in six of the past seven years. They started last season 5-0 before dropping their first four after the bye.
"Last year is last year, the previous is the previous year,'' said running back Jerick McKinnon. "This is a whole different team. Each and every guy is different from those previous years. It's going to be about us focusing and focusing on the task at hand, which is Washington.''
Wide receiver Adam Thielen also shrugged off Minnesota's troubles following a bye.
"I think people look too far into that stuff,'' he said.