When a player of E.J. Henderson’s caliber is taken from a defense, the trickle down effect is expansive. Already on the vikings.com Blog we’ve mentioned the impact E.J.’s injury will have on Jasper Brinkley (the new starting middle LB), Erin Henderson (he’ll be active on game days now) and Ben Leber (he’ll play in more nickel situations).
But we haven’t yet mentioned how Chad Greenway’s role will change, until now.
From a pure production standpoint, Greenway’s role moving forward might be the most significant for Minnesota. He plays the strongside LB position in the Vikings defense, a position that benefits from dominant DTs such as the Williams Wall covering up offensive linemen.
Both Greenway and Henderson have been productive LBs in the Vikings scheme over the past few seasons. In 16 games over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Henderson averaged 8.7 tackles per game. During those same 16 games, Greenway tallied an average of 7.3 tackles per game.
This isn’t the first time Greenway has been forced to play without his starting middle LB, though. And when he’s been in this situation in the past, Greenway has responded.
Last year after Henderson was lost for the season with a foot injury in Week 4, Greenway stepped up and averaged 9.3 tackles per contest, a full 2 tackles more per game than when Henderson was in the lineup. When all was said and done, Greenway finished 2008 with a career-high 160 tackles, including 10 tackles in a playoff loss to Philadelphia.
You can never replace a player of Henderson’s caliber. But with Leber taking over in nickel situations and Greenway playing behind the Williams Wall, the Vikings still look to have a productive LB corps that can keep the Vikings defense clicking.
Tags: Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson
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