E.J. Henderson will lead the Vikings defense against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, just a day shy of the 1-year anniversary of his season-ending leg injury from last year. It was on December 6, 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals when Henderson suffered a fractured femur, an injury that some thought could end the veteran’s career.
“From everything I was told when the injury occurred and the rarity of guys coming back and playing and how infrequent that injury occurs in football, everything I heard was grim,” Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. “The fact that he ended up starting in our New Orleans game (season-opener), I was as surprised as anybody and he’s gotten better and better as the year has gone on.”
The fact that Henderson not only made it back to the field but has also re-assumed his role as a playmaker and the heart of the defense is a tribute to his resiliency. Those of us who’ve been around Henderson for most of his career have seen him transition from an underachieving 2nd-round pick to a team leader. We’ve seen him transition from a disconnected teammate to the Vikings Community Man of the Year.
But now, with his injury and subsequent rehab and comback occurring on a national stage, others are noticing the same transition. Ultimately, the transition has resulted in Henderson becoming a person and a player who embodies what it means to be a Viking.
Henderson currently leads all NFL LBs in INTs with 3 and he also registered a sack last week in Washington, his first sack since November 22 of last year. In 2008 Henderson suffered a season-ending foot injury and some wondered if he’d ever return to form. He clearly had last season, ranking as the team’s leading tackler at the time of the leg injury in Arizona. Then some doubted he’d be able to recover from the leg injury. With those 3 INTs, a forced fumble and numerous other splash plays this season, he clearly has.
“We’re so accustomed to seeing him make those splash plays on a repeated basis, and I think he’s right where he needs to be in order to make that happen the rest of the way, as evidenced by what happened on Sunday,” Frazier said. “It should be good for the rest of our football team as the year goes on.
“And I still can’t believe he’s doing what he’s doing. None of us thought that even now he’d be out there.”
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Leslie Frazier
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