Andrew Sendejo played college ball at Rice, went undrafted in 2010, played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions in the UFL, and bounced around a couple of NFL teams before landing in Minnesota, where he is now the starting safety for the Vikings.
Talk about a long and winding road.
“It was an unconventional path, but it’s just one of those things where if you know you can play and you believe in yourself, you can go as far as you want,” Sendejo said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think that was just part of my process and obviously when you’re coming out of college, you want to get drafted and do all those things, but that’s just not the case all the time coming from a smaller school. I was hurt my senior year so I didn’t have a lot of film for scouts and things like that my last year. But it’s one of those things. You can’t just feel sorry for yourself. If you want to go play ball, that’s kind of what I did. I set my mind to it. A lot of things have to line up just right for you to get on a team when you take that path. I was just fortunate to even have an opportunity to go play in the UFL and was able to do well in my games there in order to get picked up.”
The Vikings are glad they have Sendejo, who is fourth on the team in tackles, has defended two passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. Minnesota (6-2) has won six of its last seven games and has allowed just one team, Denver, to score more than 20 points this season.
The Broncos scored 23.
“Obviously our goal every week is to get turnovers and we’re trying to put more emphasis on that,” Sendejo said. “We haven’t forced too many turnovers the last couple games, so we’r putting a big emphasis on that. We’re trying to get the offense the ball more. Obviously three-and-outs, and then in special teams trying to get good field position for our offense. That’s your job as a defensive player. . . . We take pride in our defense. Last week in overtime (against St. Louis), we elected to kick off and play defense first because that’s what our coach felt like was the best decision. As a defensive guy, you like that. You want to go out here first. That’s the type of mentality every guy on our defense has: We’re not scared to step up and go first and start it off right.”
The Vikings will go for their fifth straight win this Sunday in Oakland. The Raiders (4-4) rank seventh in the league in scoring offense (26.6 points).
“Every week in the NFL is a big game,” Sendejo said. “Pretty much every game does come down to the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of the game. Every team, every week, is going to have a freak on (the offensive) side of the ball that you’re going to have handle. This will be another good game, another good challenge for us. We’re looking forward to going out there on the road and getting another win on the road. That’s what great teams have to do. They have to be able to go out and win on the road against another tough team. It will be a great test. We’re looking forward to Sunday. It’ll be a hell of a game.”