A key part of the Vikings offensive line returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. C John Sullivan, who is dealing with an ankle injury, was a limited participant on Thursday and appears to be making a push to play on Sunday.
P Chris Kluwe (right hamstring) and CB Antoine Winfield (neck) were not able to return, however, and only time will tell if either or both will be available on Sunday.
There was no change to the 4 other injured players on Thursday, as all remained limited participants (Husain Abdullah/pelvis; E.J. Henderson/knee; Charlie Johnson/elbow; Jamarca Sanford/knee).
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The Vikings identified Erin Henderson very early as the top candidate to fill the starting outside LB job vacated by Ben Leber’s departure via free agency, and Henderson has come through for the club by performing well through the season’s first 4 games.
Against the San Diego Chargers in Week 1, his first career NFL start, Henderson got to QB Philip Rivers and registered his first career sack; he also had 7 tackles. Last week in Kansas City, Henderson was 2nd on the defense with 9 tackles, which was also a career high for him. In total, Henderson has 20 tackles, 1.0 sack and 1 pass defensed through the first 4 games.
You can’t help but to be excited for Henderson as he progresses into an NFL starter. He originally made the Vikings roster as an undrafted free agent in 2009, became a steady contributor on special teams early in his career, and now is the team’s regular starter at outside LB. The latest significant step in Henderson’s development came last week, when he stepped into the role of a nickel LB in place of his brother, E.J. Henderson, who is dealing with a sore knee.
In the Vikings nickel package, one of the starting LBs is replaced by a DB. Up until last week, it was Erin Henderson who came off the field. But the Vikings wanted to reduce the amount of snaps E.J. played because of the sore knee, so they inserted Erin into the lineup. After watching film of Sunday’s game, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier sounded pleased with how Erin performed.
“I thought he did a good job, considering the amount of time he has had to play that position,” Frazier said. “He did a really good job for us and he should continue to improve. The health of EJ Henderson will determine how much more Erin will play in that role, but it was good to see him come out and really do a good job. It lets us know, that if things continue to go as they are with EJ, that we have a guy that can handle that position.”
As for E.J., it sounds like the Vikings plan to reduce his snaps last week is working so far. He was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, whereas last week on Wednesday he was a non-participant.
“He was much better, to the point where we are going to let him do a few things [Wednesday],” Frazier said. “So that was encouraging; I think we did the right thing by taking some snaps off of him during that game.”
The Vikings also did the right thing by tabbing Erin Henderson as a starting outside LB.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Leslie Frazier
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