Henderson seeking challenge at linebacker

Erin Henderson continues to work through his personal issues, but says playing weakside linebacker is "almost boring."

A month ago, Erin Henderson had a crossroads in his personal life. He knew something wasn't quite right and wasn't sure why. He stepped away from the team and sought help for what was bothering him. In the process, Audie Cole took over the middle linebacker spot and hasn't surrendered it.

Henderson didn't lose his starting spot, but he did lose his spot. He now is back to the weakside linebacker spot. But, as important as football is to Henderson, getting his life in order has been more important. On Wednesday, he was asked how much his personal transformation has helped him both personally and professionally.

"This is my job, this is my responsibility to myself and my teammates," Henderson said. "This is something we agreed to do. It's helped me. Just waking up every morning, it could be easy to look at our record, look at the weather outside and get down and feel bad and feel sad for yourself. But I'm able to work past that and get over that and look at the bright side."

Asked directly if his condition could be termed "depression," Henderson wouldn't go that far but said it has been something akin to it.

"It's kind of hard to say," Henderson said. "Depression is a weird word. They use it in different ways and throw it around in different ways. I think it was more so just the pressure of it all kind of coming to a head is a good way to look at it and good way to put it."

When the 2014 season opens, Henderson doesn't know where his position will be. He entered the offseason program as the Vikings' middle linebacker. He would like to be in the mix to make a return to that spot, but he isn't sure that is going to happen.

"I think I'm more than capable of getting the job done," Henderson said. "We'll see what happens with everything and how it plays out."

From the time Jasper Brinkley signed with the Cardinals in March, Henderson was the only candidate with real game experience to play middle linebacker, if you follow the party line that was presented from draft weekend until a month ago. But after his absence and Audie Cole performing decently at middle linebacker, Henderson is back at a familiar position, but this time it's a little different.

"It was almost kind of boring honestly," Henderson said. "You go from being in the middle of everything and being in the mix all the time, being on the field all the downs to going back to playing the (weakside), which is not a glorious position at all by any stretch of the imagination. You're coming off the field a lot of times with the nickel situations. It's kind of been hard for me, a little tough."

But, the good news is that, from the personal standpoint, Henderson is in a better place mentally. He is ready to help in the rebuilding process coming in 2014 for the Vikings and he is ready to help the defense regardless of whether his position is on the inside or the outside. His recovery from his personal issues has come quickly and profoundly.

"I feel great," Henderson said. "The organization has done a great job in helping me and assisting me. My family has been there for me and been strong. My wife has done a great job of just being my backbone that I need her to be. And my son is amazing. It's been a lot easier because I have those guys in my corner, as well as my teammates here with me day in and day out. It's just one of those things where you take it in stride and you move on and you continue to grow and get better."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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