Erin Henderson was a standout performer during the Vikings 10 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) the past three weeks, seemingly always around the ball and never one to shy away from competition. He’s been a fun player to watch evolve after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and then growing into a starting role last year.
While he’s established himself as a starter on the Vikings defense, Henderson hasn’t fallen into complacency. His background as an undrafted free agent who’s earned a spot on the Vikings roster and the competitive nature he possesses won’t allow him to do that. Henderson’s progression isn’t exclusively on-field improvement, either. Those who observe practice, from media to coaches, have noticed Henderson growing into his role not only as a playmaker, but as a leader as well.
“That’s a good observation because he has become more vocal,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said last week. “I don’t know if it’s because E.J. is not here, but some of it is the inexperience we have also at the linebacker position without Chad (Greenway) being here. But he has become more vocal.”
Greenway was absent for some of the Vikings OTAs recently as he tends to a family matter. But in a few seasons as Henderson’s teammate and more importantly in the time he’s spent with Henderson this offseason, Greenway has also noticed his teammate growing into a more significant role and discussed it with Radio Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen on his weekday 9-noon show on KFAN.
“With Erin looking to be that nickel MIKE (middle linebacker), just because of his experience last year, he has got unbelievable range and his wingspan is ridiculously big,” Greenway said. “He’s got great hips in coverage, he’s proven that last year on film. I’m so excited for his future at that position.”
Whether Henderson plays strong-side or weak-side. Or whether he’s the nickel MIKE or not, Henderson has an important place on this team, and he’s stepping up his performance appropriately.
“He understands he’s in a role now where we need him to step up and speak up and really help the young guys that are on our defense,” Frazier said. “He’s growing. He’s growing as a player and a person, which is good for us.”
Tags: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Leslie Frazier
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