Vikings Make Bowman Signing, Erin Henderson Re-Signing Official

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 27, 2012 – 1:40 pm

The Vikings have signed veteran free agent CB Zack Bowman and have re-signed LB Erin Henderson. Bowman figures to be in the Vikings CB rotation and will also be a key cog on special teams. Henderson will be the front-runner for a starting outside LB job.

Bowman joins the Vikings organization after spending the past 4 seasons with the Chicago Bears. The
Nebraska graduate has appeared in 46 games, making 16 starts during his career. The 2009  season marked Bowman’s best as he recorded a team-leading 6 INTs, 10 passes defensed and 67 total tackles. The 6 INTs tied for 4th in the NFL in 2009.

In his first season as a starter, Henderson finished 4th on the team with a career high 91 tackles. He also
set career highs with 1.5 sacks, 8 TFL, and 2 FF. A former rookie free agent out of Maryland, Henderson appeared in 15 games in 2011, starting 11.

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Attend This Week’s Taping of “Vikings GamePlan” at the Sports Authority in Minnetonka with E.J. and Erin Henderson

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on November 28, 2011 – 2:50 pm

Most weeks, “Vikings GamePlan” is filmed at Sports Authority Studios in the basement of Winter Park.  However, this week’s show will be taped on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Sports Authority store in Minnetonka (click here for directions), with E.J. and Erin Henderson as the special guests.

The taping will get underway at 6:30 p.m., and then from 7 to 7:30 p.m., fans will have a chance to get autographs from both E.J. and Erin.  In addition, Sports Authority and the Vikings will be giving away lower-level tickets to the Sunday, Dec. 18 game at Mall of America Field vs. the New Orleans Saints.

And if you can’t make the taping, make sure to watch “Vikings GamePlan” each Sunday at 10 a.m. on KARE 11 in the Twin Cities, and on Fox Sports North at 10:30 a.m.  Fans can also watch episodes online by clicking here.

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Peterson Has High Ankle Sprain; Status For Sunday Unknown

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 21, 2011 – 12:57 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Monday and he provided an update on RB Adrian Peterson, who was forced out of Sunday’s game in the 2nd quarter after injuring his ankle. Frazier says Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain and will be in a walking boot for the next couple of days.

Frazier added that there is some ligament damage, that the ankle sprain is a Grade 1 sprain, and that Peterson will try and practice on Friday to see if he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

“The good news is it’s nothing more serious than that, the fact that it is an ankle sprain and he’ll recover from it,” Frazier said. “It’s just the matter of the amount of time he’ll miss. We’ll have a better indication toward the end of the week.”

On other injury news, Frazier said that TE Kyle Rudolph has a quad contusion and will be day-to-day. Fellow TE Visanthe Shiancoe suffered a mild strain to his hamstring. Finally, Frazier had good news on the Erin Henderson front, saying the starting LB should be available for this Sunday’s game in Atlanta.

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Erin Henderson Launches Foundation 50 in Support of Sickle Cell Research

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 27, 2011 – 8:00 am

Erin Henderson is an emerging contributor on the Vikings defense, as his ascension from an undrafted free agent to a starting linebacker continues this season. Henderson’s contributions to the Vikings on the field are matched by his passion for helping others off the field, too.

Henderson launched his foundation – “Foundation 50″ – earlier this year with the goal of spreading awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD) and raising funds to support research programs and ultimately find a cure.  Foundation 50’s signature event this year will occur on Halloween, and you have an opportunity to participate.

This Halloween Henderson is offering Twin Citians a tasteful alternative to vampires and goblins with his “Out for Blood” fundraising event. The “Out for Blood” event will not only serve as the foundation’s signature fundraising event, but also educate attendees on how they can play a role in helping those who suffer from SCD through donating blood.

“Sickle cell disease affects millions of people around the world and has been prevalent in the African American community,” Henderson said. “I’m incredibly fortunate that football has given me a platform to build awareness for this disease and hope others in the Twin Cities will join me and my teammates on Halloween to help raise money to help fight for Sickle Cell Disease.”

The “Out for Blood” event, slated for 6-9 p.m. on Monday, October 31 at Sopranos Italian Kitchen in St. Louis Park, will feature great food from Sopranos’ executive chef, wine pairings from the restaurant’s extensive wine list and other local wineries, and unique interaction with Vikings players and coaches. The evening will also include a short program and silent auction, with proceeds benefiting Henderson’s Foundation 50.

Tickets for the event begin at $100 for an individual, with sponsorship packages including event tickets, autographed merchandise, recognition in the program and other benefits beginning at $1,200.

More On Foundation 50
Henderson’s Foundation 50 works to build awareness and find a cure for SCD through innovative programming, with a special emphasis on children and families affected by the disease. Support for Henderson’s efforts has been provided through partnerships with the University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital, Memorial Blood Centers, the Viking’s Children’s Fund, Sickle Cell Disease Advocates of Minnesota and Farmer Hat Productions.

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Frazier Pleased With Erin Henderson’s Performance In Increased Role

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 6, 2011 – 6:50 am

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.

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E.J. Henderson To Be A Game-Time Decision On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 16, 2011 – 12:12 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after practice on Friday and said that LB E.J. Henderson was held out for a second consecutive day of practice with soreness in his knee. Frazier also said that Henderson will be a game-time decision on Sunday and that a final decision is likely to be made after he goes through an on-field workout Sunday morning.

Henderson was not listed on the week’s initial injury report (Wednesday), but he woke up on Thursday with soreness in the knee and continues to receive around-the-clock treatment so he can be ready to play on Sunday in the team’s home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Henderson is unable to play, his younger brother, Erin, would slide over to start at middle LB, with Kenny Onatolu filling in at outside LB to occupy the spot vacated by Erin.

Frazier said the team wants to be “cautious” with the injury, which is why he’s been held out of practice the past two days. The swelling has subsided some, but Henderson is still “tender,” according to Frazier. An X-ray was taken of Henderson’s knee and it showed no structural damage. Also, the knee soreness is in the same leg that Henderson injured in 2009, but Frazier said there is no connection between the two injuries. [UPDATE: Jeremy Folwer of the Pioneer Press, among others, reports via Twitter that the swelling is indeed a side effect of the surgery he underwent for his leg in 2009]

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E.J. Henderson Held Out Of Thursday’s Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 15, 2011 – 2:33 pm

Vikings middle LB E.J. Henderson was a scratch from Thursday’s practice. His absence is notable because he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and was not listed on the week’s initial injury report.

Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after practice and said Henderson has a sore knee and that he’ll have an X-ray taken. Xavier Adibi and Erin Henderson stepped in for Henderson during practice. When Erin Henderson played middle LB, Kenny Onatolu stepped in at outside (weak-side) LB.

It goes without saying how important Henderson is to the Vikings defense. The injury is compounded by the fact that primary backup middle LB Jasper Brinkley has already been placed on the Reserve/Injured list.


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Emptying Out The Notebook From San Diego

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 14, 2011 – 6:03 am

Wednesday is the day we flip the calendar from last week to this week. But before we do that this morning, I wanted to empty out the notebook from Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Chargers…

Positives to build on
It’s hard to look at the positives when you lose a game that you lead by 10 points at halftime, and in the process you generated just 10 first downs and 187 net yards. But there were some positives from the game and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier mentioned a few of them in his Monday press conference.

“I had a chance to go back and look at that tape and there were so many positive things that happened in that game,” Frazier said, “and particularly in the first half, just opening up the season the way we did with the kickoff going for a touchdown and guys just battling throughout and trying to make plays on both sides of the ball and our special teams as well.”

Frazier went on to mention other positives, such as: running the football (Vikings averaged 6.1 yards per carry); stopping the run (Chargers averaged just 2.9 yards per carry). Beyond that, it was good to see the Vikings win the turnover battle, hold QB Philip Rivers below his career averages in yards per attempt and passer rating and continue to cover kicks extremely well.

Defensive playmakers
Give a tip of the cap to Antoine Winfield, who intercepted Rivers late in the 1st half to stymie a scoring drive. It was the 24th INT of his career and his 18th as a Viking. Winfield will play in his 100th game as a Viking this Sunday in the team’s home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Other defensive playmakers from Sunday were LB Erin Henderson and DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison. In his first career start, Henderson had 6 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss and a sack. Allen and Robison split a sack and Allen also added an INT deep in Vikings territory to halt another potential Chargers scoring drive. On Winfield’s INT, Robison hit Rivers as he threw it, which caused the ball to hang up in the air so Winfield could snag it.

Frazier encouraged by CB Cedric Griffin
The Vikings defense is better when Cedric Griffin is playing, and he was playing in a regular season game on Sunday for the first time in nearly a year. Frazier seemed encouraged by Griffin’s ability to play the whole game on Sunday.

“I was really impressed with the fact that Cedric Griffin played as well as he did and as long as he did,” Frazier said. “He played every snap on defense, he did a great job.”

Young defensive line rotation
With Kevin Williams missing in action for the first two weeks of the season, a few young defensive linemen saw extra snaps on Sunday. There wasn’t much of a pass rush from the inside, which we typically see when Williams is in the game, but you have to give the youngsters some credit for the way they played against the run. In the end, there is improvement to be made, but it was also a step forward for the young rotation. Also, this experience will only make the entire defensive line better once Williams does return.

Re-naming the “Wildcat”
The Vikings introduced their package of plays for QB Joe Webb. Some have questioned the timing, which is a good example of Monday Morning Quarterbacking if you ask me, but the bottom line is it was good to see the Vikings display some creativity and ambition in getting Webb on the field.

But I think we need to come up with a name for this package of plays. It sounds like Frazier and the offensive staff don’t view this subset of plays in the team’s playbook as the typical Wildcat package, largely because Webb is a dual-threat – he can run or stay in the pocket and throw.

“Well ours is a little different,” Frazier responded when asked about the “Wildcat.” “The way we’re using Joe Webb, it’s different. Most teams that put a guy back there can’t throw the ball as well as Joe. We have a legitimate quarterback running the offense when we do it.”

Unfortunately, the Chargers were able to contain Webb when he was in the ballgame. But watch for the Vikings to grow that package of plays and improve production.

“There is room to expound on what we did [Sunday],” Frazier said. “We are not ready to give up on it. They did a good job [Sunday] of defending it, but we think it has merit.”

I do, too.

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Hendersons Set To Become Third Brother Tandem At LB In NFL History

Posted by cjsiewert on September 9, 2011 – 3:09 pm

The NFL has a storied history of brothers playing in the NFL, but it’s not common when the brothers play the same position for the same team during the same season. In fact, there’s been only 15 sets of brothers to do so and only two at the LB position – Niko and Pete Noga with the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals, and Bill and Joe Osmanski with the Chicago Bears from 1944-45.

E.J. and Erin Henderson are in line to start at the middle and outside LB positions, respectively, which would make them the third brother tandem at LB for the same team during the same season.

E.J. has been a constant on the Vikings defense since his rookie season 8 years ago, but for his younger brother Erin, it’s been a different path to be in line for the starting role. Erin spent his first 3 seasons primarily as a special teams player and backup LB, but his hard work throughout training camp this year seems to be paying off.

In the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, Erin registered a team-high 10 tackles and he continued to impress throughout the preseason. The 4th-year OLB was fundamental in a goal-line stand in which the Vikings defense stymied the Seahawks four times after a 1st-and-goal from the MIN 2.

The prospect of having a brother tandem at LB may be exciting for Vikings fans, but anyone with a brother may know, it’s not always easy to agree or use the most effective way of communication. To Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, it’s of no concern.

“From the day Erin [Henderson] arrived,” Frazier said. “They [E.J. and Erin] have a great relationship which is what you hope for when you’re talking about brothers. Which is one of the reasons we weren’t overly concerned when we signed Erin because sometimes that can be a negative as opposed to a positive, and in this case it’s been an absolute positive.”

Team chemistry is an attribute fixed to many great teams and Frazier also sees that as a positive connection between the Henderson brothers.

“You would think there would be some natural chemistry there when you talk about brothers,” Frazier acknowledged. “Being able to relate and talk about assignments and what it takes to be successful in our League. I would think that would come easy for E.J. to share with him [Erin] as opposed to a guy he’s never met before so I would think it’s a benefit for Erin and a benefit for E.J., as well wanting to see his brother succeed which in turn should benefit our football team.”

We’ve witnessed great defensive units over Vikings history such as the Purple People Eaters and the Williams Wall, but are we now in store for a new era of great defensive play? And what to call them? The Bash Brothers, Two-Headed Viking or simply The Brothers Henderson? Let us know what you think.

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McNabb Says Offense Is Coming Along; Practice Observations

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 24, 2011 – 3:41 pm

Vikings QB Donovan McNabb met with reporters after practice on Wednesday, just three days before the Vikings suit up for preseason game #3. Typically the third preseason game is when starters see the most playing time, so Saturday night’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys should give us a pretty good glimpse into just how much progress the Vikings offense has made.

Remember, coming off a lockout that canceled all Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps in addition to a new Offensive Coordinator and starting QB has the Vikings a bit behind the 8 ball. But the Vikings won’t use that as an excuse for poor play, largely because many other teams are enduring the same or similar disadvantages and also because there’s a sense among many on this team that the offense is making strides.

“We’re getting very close, we’re getting very close,” McNabb said about the chemistry developing between himself and the receivers. “I’m excited with where we’re at right now and those guys kind of have a feel of where I may place the ball [when] they come out of their routes. I have a feel of how they’re going to come out of their routes.

“But again, each game is different and it’s a learning process for all of us and hopefully once the whistle blows come Game One we’re right where we want to be.”

That’s the goal – to be ready to go once Week 1 rolls around and then to continue getting better from that point forward. It seemed as if the Vikings offense made a step forward in that effort on Wednesday. During one full team period of practice, I was standing just behind Musgrave and I heard him complement the Vikings offense a number of times on their spacing and timing.

“We had a good day today,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after practice, speaking about his entire team. “I really believe we got better in some areas. We worked a little bit of short yardage, some goal line and some two-minute. Great weather again for us to practice in, which really helps a lot as you’re trying to mold the team and get the team ready for our third preseason game.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Frazier continued. “This game on [Thursday] night will give us a better indication of where we are and how far we have to go to be ready for our first regular season game.”

Here are a few observations from practice…

– The Vikings worked for roughly two hours on Wednesday in full pads and in warm, breezy conditions.

– Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe, who returned to practice from a hamstring injury on Tuesday, was not out on the field taking part in practice on Wednesday. Frazier said Shiancoe incurred a setback, but said it was not a major setback. The Vikings ultimately decided to hold him back on Wednesday rather than risk further injury.

– With Shiancoe on the sidelines, rookie TE Kyle Rudolph saw a few more reps. He’s had a tremendous training camp so far and he was very good on Wednesday. The one aspect of Rudolph’s game that I notice the most is how sure-handed he is; you rarely, if ever, see him take his eye off the ball before he secures it and moves upfield. He also rarely traps the football against his body to catch it.

– There was some pretty good action in the goal line portion of Wednesday’s practice. On three straight plays, the Vikings defense made stops against the scout team. On the first play, DT Letroy Guion penetrated and stopped a run in the backfield. On the second play, the offense used a play-action fake to try and fool the defense but LB Erin Henderson did not bite and was able to tip the pass and cause an incompletion. On the third and final play of the series, DT Christian Ballard and CB Cedric Griffin combined to stop a run short of the goal line.

– WR Percy Harvin made the play of the day on a pass from rookie QB Christian Ponder. Harvin was flying down the left sideline and was able to catch up to and dive under a pass that Ponder had launched downfield. Harvin came up with the ball, secured it all the way to the ground and then quickly got to his feet and completed the play by dashing to the endzone. This was one of the plays when Musgrave complemented Ponder and Harvin on “great timing.” In fact, Musgrave made the “great timing” comment as Ponder’s pass was in the air and about 75% of the way to where Harvin ended up making the catch.

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