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Eric Kendricks changes tune, now says he loves playing for Mike Zimmer

Eric Kendricks played for Mike Zimmer for seven seasons in Minnesota, but after Zimmer was fired as the Vikings’ head coach, Kendricks said Zimmer’s “fear-based” leadership was the wrong approach for the team.

So when Kendricks signed with the Cowboys this year, agreeing to play linebacker under Zimmer as defensive coordinator, that raised the question: Why return to play for a coach he criticized two years ago?

Emotions were high,” Kendricks now says of his comments about Zimmer then, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. “We’re very excited. It’s good to be back with him. I love his walkthroughs. I love the little ways he does things, the way he structures things, the level of detail, so I’m excited. I really am.”

Kendricks also says that despite the comments at the time, he respected Zimmer.

“Yeah absolutely, I always appreciated Zim,” Kendricks said. “Just the amount of defense I learned when I was underneath him. The way I watch film, the way we break things down, the install, a lot of things I learned from Zim and we had some good years and I can’t wait to continue that.”

Zimmer is known for being demanding, but Kendricks said he and his coach are on the same page going forward.

“Life’s hard,” he said. “Absolutely. I respect him fully. We’re going to get this thing going. I had a talk with him this past weekend. We’re excited to have this opportunity to work together again and play off each other.”

Kendricks turned down a contract offer from the 49ers to sign with the Cowboys, a surprising development that showed he’s sincere when he says he wants to play with Zimmer. Despite what he said after his last stint with Zimmer ended.