Notebook: Henderson recovering, pills & more

Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson is back at Winter Park for treatment on a season-ending foot injury and talked about the process and his emotions. Also, Saints coach Sean Payton gives an encouraging update on his players' status with a potential suspension, something that might be able to help the Vikings' defensive tackles. And get other notes from a Wednesday at Winter Park.

E.J. Henderson was a Pro Bowl alternate last season. This year, while Pro Bowl voting occurs online for fans, the Vikings linebacker is stuck with his foot in a walking boot and already having to shift his focus toward next year.

Henderson led the Vikings with 155 tackles last year, but in the fourth game of the 2008 season, he dislocated two toes in his left foot, ending his season.

"I knew something was wrong and I dislocated my toe," Henderson said Wednesday in his first appearance in the Vikings locker room during media access since the injury. "They put it back in and I went back out and we figured it was best to get off it. I get X-rays done, MRIs done, then got the work done."

"The work" was surgery he had on his big toe, one of two he dislocated in the fourth game of the season against the Tennessee Titans. After having a foot specialist at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore perform the surgery, Henderson said he doesn't expect any long-term effects and figures it will be about three months and he'll be back to working out.

For the last few weeks, he's been getting two hours of treatment a day at the Vikings' Winter Park complex and then going to his Eden Prairie home.

"It's pretty tough. After a couple weeks you get used to it, though, coming in and really going home and watching the game from home," he said. "I've been on crutches, so I really haven't been able to be on the sidelines. I'll probably get back on the sidelines and get back into the swing of things."

After ditching the crutches, Henderson is hoping for a return to the sidelines this Sunday against the Houston Texans. Being somewhat of a player-coach isn't what Henderson had hoped for this season, but he'll help out the team any way he can.

"In juries happen. You never want them to happen to you. You never think they're going to happen to you. … I've never been in a (season-ending) situation like that. It was a shock, but you can't question why – why it was me," he said. "We got the work done and we're going to try to come back stronger next year."

Fellow linebacker Ben Leber said Henderson is doing about as well as could be expected, considering the circumstances.

"I think he's doing really well. … Since he's been back, he's been in pretty good spirits. It's been hard for him to not be around. It's a whole different culture when you're on IR (injured reserve). You kind of feel alienated. But he's done a good job of sticking around and hanging out with the guys," Leber said.

Henderson said his foot would remain in a boot for a few more weeks. In about three months, he should be able to resume workouts, he hopes, and he is planning to be back for the Vikings' offseason program, which usually starts in March.

Henderson said there was a chance he could have come back "probably for a couple games" at the end of the season, but he and the doctors, trainers and coaches decided that wasn't worth rushing him back. He'll remain sidelined the rest of the year after being placed on injured reserve.

"It has been tough, but I think it's going to ease up now that I'm back around a little bit. Anytime you're watching your guys out there playing it's going to be tough," he said. "… Over these past couple weeks, it's gotten easier. It will get easier once I'm on the sidelines and back around the guys."

And having his younger brother Erin around has helped as well. Erin made the team as an undrafted free agent this season and has been contributing on special teams.

"It's cool to definitely have family out here during the season, not being out here on your own. It's good to have him out there, watching him be able to play," E.J. said. "So I'm looking forward to him emerging hopefully as a special teams player. I look forward to watching him on Sundays."

WILLIAMS WALL UPDATE

Pat Williams and Kevin Williams each declined to talk on the record Wednesday about their status with the league. According to Fox Sports report on Sunday, the two Pro Bowl tackles each tested positive for a weight-loss diuretic that can also be a masking agent in steroids tests. Three Saints players, RB Deuce McAllister, DE Will Smith and DE Charles Grant, were also cited by Fox Sports as appealing four-game suspensions after testing positive for Bumetanide.

Kevin Williams talked to reporters after Wednesday's practice but declined to talk about the Fox Sports report or his case.

Saints coach Sean Payton talked about his players' chances on appeal with Sirius NFL Radio on Wednesday. He was asked if he thinks the league's case is a slam dunk against his players.

"No, I don't. And that's not just wishful thinking. Certainly, it is in our best interest not to have them lost for four games, but there are some other things involved here and I'll just leave it at that," Payton said. "I'm, again, anxious to hear when it all sorts out how and what we're looking at."

Vikings coach Brad Childress told the Minnesota media he can't let the reports be a distraction to his team.

"You know as you head into training camp that you're usually not going to be blip-free as you head all the way through to January 1. Nobody has any idea what those blips may be, but we're prepared for that," Childress said. "… We talked as a team about where that was at, and (it's) out of our hands. (We have to) play on and keep our focus with what we have right here."

Payton was optimistic that with time more information would come out in his players' favor.

"I think there are some specific details that possibly can help these guys that will be interesting to see when it all sorts out," he told Sirius. "And we're hopeful, certainly, that again all the facts are out, and I think they will have a chance to obviously be heard and we're optimistic about it."

HERRON'S HIP ON THE MEND

Linebacker David Herron, who was the starter for two games after Henderson's injury, is recovering from a hip injury and was the only player not at practice on Wednesday.

"Every day I'm feeling better and hopefully I can be able to come back for this week," Herron said, who was replaced by Vinny Ciurciu and Napoleon Harris against Chicago.

Herron said he isn't sure of his playing status after he returns from injury.

"It's all up to the coaches. I'm sure they'll make the right decision, who they think should be in here," he said.

NOTES

  • In addition to Herron, DE Ray Edwards (knee), TE Garrett Mills (ankle), WR Sidney Rice (knee) and S Madieu Williams (neck) were limited in practice.

  • For the Texans, WR Andre Davis (finger) has already been declared out of Sunday's game. RB Ahman Green (thigh) and WR Kevin Walter (knee) did not participate in Wednesday's practice. S Dominique Barber (hamstring), the former Gopher, was limited.

  • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson returned to practice Wednesday after missing Monday's practice to be with his young son for a medical procedure.

  • Vikings coach Brad Childress said his team is "in a great frame of mind after that bye, mentally and physically."

  • The Vikings are encouraging fans to bring a non-perishable food item to the Vikings-Texans game. Members of the Vikings Women's Organization and volunteers from the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank will be stationed at each Metrodome gate to collect the food from 10 a.m. until the noon kickoff. For those not going to the game, they can make a donation online to the Vikings/Second Harvest Heartland "Tackle Hunger" program at www.2harvest.org and enter to win Vikings merchandise.


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