Henson Continues Quest For Meaningful Role

Quarterback Drew Henson is back with the Vikings and hoping that he can prove he belongs in the NFL.

With all the fuss at Winter Park focused on who will be the starting quarterback – reeling Brad Johnson or rookie Tarvaris Jackson – and if aching Brooks Bollinger has enough pain tolerance or even if capable of putting on his own jacket, Drew Henson flew in literally under the radar screen.

That's right. Henson, who spent three weeks with the Vikings earlier this season, signed with the Vikings this week and was placed on the practice squad – for now.

"I got on the plane and flew up here as soon as I heard," Henson said. "I'm hoping to do whatever I can to help out this team."

The whatever Henson is talking about is running the scout team this week. On Wednesday, Jackson told reporters that Johnson would be the starter, but it's uncertain if that was Brad Childress encouraging his quarterback to play mind games with the media or truth from a rookie. Because Bollinger is nursing a banged-up shoulder, Jackson will supposedly be the backup to Johnson, and Henson will run the scout team.

"He knows something about our system, spent time with us, knows how we do business," head coach Brad Childress said of Henson. "So he'll be here to be able to take some of those reps and preparing our defense."

Even though he was only here for three weeks earlier this season, Henson said he has a good idea of how the Vikings offense operates.

"I have a decent grasp of the offense from the first time I was here," Henson said. "I was on the scout team, but I still was able to learn some of the offense here. You get a general understanding of the terminology and start to know where everybody should be. But it's a whole new game when you get on the field, so we'll see how it goes."

Just five years ago when he was a star quarterback at Michigan there was little that foreshadowed a roller coaster ride that would take him from the Big Ten to minor league baseball to becoming an NFL vagabond. In 2001, Henson gave up football when he signed a six-year, $17 million contract with the New York Yankees organization. He abandoned his baseball dream three years later when the Dallas Cowboys signed him to an eight-year deal with more than $3 million guaranteed.

As a rookie, Henson started once and completed 10 of 18 passes for the Cowboys for 78 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 61.8 quarterback rating. He was inactive for all 16 games last year with the Cowboys and was released by Dallas over the summer.

While the quarterback carousel of Johnson, Jackson and Bollinger goes around and around, Henson continues his search for stability.

"I've grasped some of the offense when I was here last time, so hopefully I can keep on learning and do what they need me to do," Henson said.

To make room for Henson on the practice squad, the Vikings released offensive lineman Jimmy Martin.


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