The day has finally come and gone – the Vikings 1st practice of training camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato is now in the rear-view mirror and fans of the Purple can settle in for what is sure to be another exciting year of Vikings football.
I, too, have been waiting a long time for this day to come after spending over 2 months away from vikings.com and am ready to get the ball rolling again.
As Mike mentioned earlier, I spent most of my time Friday afternoon watching the core of LBs with a close eye on a rehabilitated E.J. Henderson. Henderson, who had his 2009 season cut short due to a fractured femur suffered at Arizona in Week 13, eased his way back onto the field by working out with the defensive linemen while his fellow LBs took a few snaps with the punt team early in practice.
Once the punting was over, Henderson joined the group of LBs to take part in position-specific drills that had each of the LBs quickly running to and from 4 cones placed in a square about 5 yards apart. This particular drill proved to me – and anybody else watching – that Henderson’s rehabilitation period has exceeded any expectations that one may have put on his ability to recover from such a horrific injury. Henderson was making his cuts just as quick, if not quicker, than the rest of the group.
The next drill – which had each LB dropping back into pass coverage and receiving the football – proved that not only Henderson’s quickness was back but also his range to cover his position is well on its way back to Vikings Defensive MVP form.
“Everything felt natural,” Henderson said when asked how his leg felt. “There’s no uncertainty about my ability to play again. A lot of mental toughness is involved but we put together a program and I followed it to a T, so it’s important to get back out there and show my veteran leadership.”
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has consistently expressed his astonishment with Henderson’s rehabilitation period. Henderson expressed to Childress the first day after his injury that he was “going to change the protocol with the way this injury is rehabilitated,” and that seemed to be evident with the way Henderson went about his business on the practice fields Friday.
When asked about a timeline on his return to the game field, the 8-year veteran had no qualms about what the future has in store for him.
“I know I can start now,” Henderson said. “It’s just a matter of not doing too much too soon.”
Although his practice time was limited on Friday afternoon, Henderson’s body of work showed me, and Vikings fans alike, that we might be in store for an impressive comeback year from #56.
Tags: E.J. Henderson
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