Henderson To Get First Chance at MLB

E.J. Henderson is expected to get the first crack at becoming the starting middle linebacker for the Vikings, according to head coach Brad Childress.

Vikings coach Brad Childress acknowledged to Scout.com's Adam Caplan at the owners' meetings in Arizona that E.J. Henderson likely will get the first chance to be the team's new starting middle linebacker.

"We'll probably start with him on the inside and create a spot for (Chad) Greenway, and then it will be him and Dontarrious Thomas, let those two guys play in the middle and leave (Ben) Leber at the Sam (the strongside linebacker spot)," Childress said Wednesday in Arizona.

Henderson has played middle linebacker for the Vikings before. In 2004, Henderson started 14 games at middle linebacker and led the team with 125 tackles. In 2005, he moved back to the weak side in Ted Cottrell's final season as defensive coordinator and had 102 tackles.

Last year, under a new system to the Vikings, the Tampa-2 defense, and a new defensive coordinator in Mike Tomlin, Henderson had 142 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions – all career highs.

The weakside position in the Tampa-2 defense has been considered the playmaking position, a la Derrick Brooks' success in Tampa Bay. The Vikings are staying with that base defense under new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier after Tomlin's departure to become the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year.

However, Henderson has long expressed an interest in playing middle linebacker and it appears he will get his opportunity to move back inside in 2007 after a successful 2006 campaign and with a new five-year, $25 million contract extension signed in December.

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