E.J. Henderson's Reaction

Linebacker E.J. Henderson is confident he will contribute right away, and because of that he was surprised he lasted until the second round.

The wait was too long for E.J. Henderson to hear his name called on draft day -- much too long.

Henderson, who the Vikings had as the top-rated interior linebacker on their draft board, was expected by many draft analysts to go off the board in the middle of the first round. But that didn't happen. He began to get a little impatient as the draft went to the second round and he was still available.

"I was surprised that I went so late," Henderson told VU. "I had figured that I was going to go in the first round, but it didn't happen. I couldn't control that. I'm just happy to be with a team like the Vikings that I knew wanted me."

Henderson had met with linebackers coach Brian Baker at the Combine and was told the Vikings would love to have him but didn't think he would still be available when the team picked in the second round.

He also had to deal with the stigma of a back injury he suffered at the end of his junior year -- a back injury that he says has healed just fine and shouldn't be a concern.

"I had two stress fractures in January 2002," Henderson said. "I came back last year, played every game and did fine. It wasn't something to worry about as far as I was concerned."

While his timetable may not be as fast as some other second-round picks to get into the starting lineup, Henderson said he expects his strength as a college player to carry over to the NFL.

"I make plays," Henderson told VU. "If you watch film of my games, you'll notice me. I expect to make plays and will do that in Minnesota -- regardless of how the team wants to use me. I'll do what I'm asked to and you'll notice me."

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