Notebook: Erin Henderson finds middle ground

Erin Henderson is hoping to be the top backup at outside linebacker, but he has been thrown into the fire at middle linebacker in recent practices. See what he had to say about the transition and get notes from the Wednesday morning practice.

The Hendersons were switching roles on Wednesday morning.

Vikings linebackers and brothers E.J. Henderson and Erin Henderson were forced into different situations than each is used to. E.J. continued to get some work with the first-team defense and then one of the hardest hitters on the team moved to the sideline when the heavier hitting began as he continues to recover from a fractured femur. Erin, the younger of the two by six years, ended up in E.J.'s spot in the middle of the defense.

Normally, Erin is an outside linebacker, but with E.J. still working through an impressive comeback and Jasper Brinkley dealing with an undisclosed injury that has limited him the last two days, Erin was working the middle of the field.

"They kind of threw me in the fire (and) asked me to play Mike (middle linebacker)," Erin said. "I've been doing a pretty good job with it, getting some chances to show them I'm versatile, I can do different things. I'm always going to take advantage of an opportunity and run with it any chance I get."

Erin has already been putting a good grip on the top backup spot at both outside positions with a strong camp. But playing middle linebacker adds the responsibility of having to make the initial defensive calls based off of the offensive formation.

"It's tough, but the good thing about it is that we're all in the same meeting rooms and I'm listening when he's telling those guys things and when they're coaching them up," Erin said. "I understand where we're supposed to make the strength calls, too, and all those different things. It's easier kind of having a little bit of background to it, but once you actually get down there in the fire and do it on the fly, it takes reps and it takes some time to get used to it, but I think I'm handling it pretty well and hopefully the coaches see it the same way."

After serving a suspension for the final three regular-season games and the first playoff game last year for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, Erin is finding ways to make himself more valuable.

"The more you can do – that's been my motto since I've been here. I wanted to learn both the outside positions as soon as I got here. I think I did a pretty good job with that and coaches appreciate that," he said. "The more you can do, the more valuable you are to the team, especially when you were an undrafted free agent like myself coming in and trying to figure out where you fit in at. If you can do different things, it makes it a lot easier for them to keep you around."


  • Ryan Longwell made all six of his field goals, ranging in distance from 25 yards to just more than 50.

  • Adrian Peterson (leg), Cedric Griffin (knee, PUP), Sidney Rice (hip, PUP), Benny Sapp (heat-related), and linebacker J Leman (leg) sat out practice. Percy Harvin continues to be away from the team while dealing with the death of a family member. Oh, and Brett Favre was practicing in Hattiesburg, Miss., with the Oak Grove High School football team.

  • Bryant McKinnie returned to practice Wednesday after leaving the field Tuesday with something that appeared to be heat-related.

  • With Peterson out, Albert Young is getting most of the first-team carries at running back.

  • Safeties Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson continue to share reps alongside Madieu Williams.

  • Jared Allen started the full-team drills with a touch sack of Tarvaris Jackson.

  • CB Lito Sheppard continues to take most of the reps with the first-team defense in place of Griffin. Sheppard nearly had an interception on a deep ball. He dove for it and it was just out of his reach.

  • DT Jimmy Kennedy started the second-team defensive line out with a sack of Sage Rosenfels.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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