How is this for week-to-week changes in the NFL? Erin Henderson played almost three times as many defensive snaps on Sunday against Kansas City as he did all of last year, and that was coming off a performance in which he figured he was in for five snaps the previous week.
The first-year starting linebacker has had to make a lot of adjustments this year. He has gone from mainly a special-teams player and the defensive backup to Ben Leber last year to a full-time starter in the base defense and, finally on Sunday, a linebacker that stayed on the field for almost every snap, including the nickel defense.
His increased role Sunday was because middle linebacker E.J. Henderson came off the field in the nickel defense for the first time in years while trying to limit his snaps because of a sore knee.
In fact, when asked how many snaps he played on Sunday, Erin said 62. The Chiefs were credited with running only 60 offensive snaps, so he may have been counting penalties or special-teams duty, but the point is that Henderson had a dramatic increase in playing time – more than 10 times the amount from the previous game – with his older brother E.J. limited.
"Little bit of a jump. I had to earn my paycheck this week, but I'm not a stranger to hard work. I'm all for it," Erin said.
He fared well. The Chiefs were limited to 3.7 yards per carry on 28 rushes, and their running backs and tight ends were a virtual non-factor in the passing game.
"I played OK. Did some good things. Did some OK things. Did some not-so-good things. I felt comfortable out there. I felt better than I thought I would, quicker than I thought I would," Erin said. "You never really know how you're going to play or what's going to happen to you until you're actually put out there in situations and you actually do certain things, but I think I responded to it well. Hopefully they seen that and they feel a little bit more comfortable with it as we move forward."
It was still early on Monday to make too many pronouncements about the after-effects of how his body responded to the increased playing time – Kevin Williams says the car-wreck feeling doesn't come until Tuesday – but Erin was pleased with how he felt the day after the most extensive action of his career.
"My body feels pretty good. I'll go through my regular routine that I always go through –ice, cold tub, hot tub, watch the film," he said. "[I'll] come back in [Tuesday], get a massage and go through the whole process again and be ready for work on Wednesday. I think my body responded well to it."
THAT SUCKING FEELING
Four games into the season without a win isn't a good feeling and receiver Percy Harvin wasn't trying to sugarcoat it.
"It sucks. Everybody that plays professional sports or competes at anything, it's going to suck to lose," Harvin said. "If it don't suck, then you need to find something else that you need to be doing. But it sucks, coming in here talking to [the media] saying the same thing. The quicker we get a win, the quicker everybody gets [happy].
"… I've got to explain the plays that didn't make anything and, knowing how good these guys are, we watch film. We're not going to stop. We're moving the ball. It's just the silly mistakes we kill ourselves with."
Players aren't blaming the coaches, and the coaches aren't calling out individual players, although head coach Leslie Frazier said personnel changes are being considered. That doesn't include starting quarterback Donovan McNabb just yet.
Frazier said he believes the Vikings are on the verge of turning things around, and his message to players was that there are mistakes being on made on a handful of plays that are keeping them from winning.
"I think he's a great head coach. He walks in the room, everybody pays attention to what he has to say," said defensive tackle Remi Ayodele. "I like him as a head coach personally. We've just got to win some games. It's not on him. It's us players. We've got to do stuff. They're not the ones out there dropping the balls; they're not the ones out there missing tackles. That's straight-up players. You can't coach that."
Players were trying to understand the issues on Monday and take a philosophical approach.
"I wouldn't say I'm mad, more so frustrated," Erin Henderson said. "A little bit confused as to why things are going the way they are. I don't think anybody's down. I don't think anybody's hanging their head. I think everybody's in here to work. Nobody's late. Nobody's messing around and doing different things. Everybody is here to work and we understand what the task at hand is and what we have to take care of."
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams can finally start earning a paycheck on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. After serving a two-game suspension to start the season, he was required to play the last two games without pay as part of his discipline stemming from the StarCaps case. As of this week, he's back on the payroll.
"Hadn't even thought about it much, but it will be a little extra incentive while I'm out there," he said.
"I haven't really paid much attention. It is what it is. It's over with now."
Williams forfeited more than $1.4 million as part of his punishment.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Notebook: Erin Henderson, times 10
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