In an instant last December, E.J. Henderson's career looked in peril and his well-being was threatened.
Eight and a half months after being sent to the hospital with a fractured femur, the linebacker who is used to making an impact on the opposition was back in form. In the process, he made quite an impact with a fan base that may have been seeing him in action for the first time since he was cut down by friendly fire on Dec. 6, 2009.
Although it was only a preseason game, Henderson played in his first game Sunday night and was quickly showing the NFL world that he's back.
"It was good to get back out there. I wouldn't say keyed up, but it felt good to get back out there, get some work," Henderson said Tuesday after another day at practice. "Definitely was ready to play. Felt good."
He must have, because in only a couple series of work he led the team with seven tackles, including one for a loss. It was an impressive showing for a guy who spent the first several months of this year going from a scooter to crutches to a cane.
"I think it was a big deal just to get back out there, show people I'm back where I started. I can tackle, I can get guys down, I can play live football. Seattle (this Saturday) will be the next step and then on to New Orleans (for the regular-season opener Sept. 9)," Henderson said.
"… I didn't surprise myself because it's been a long journey, eight months. Maybe for other people who haven't seen me since the accident (it was a surprise), but for myself it's been a long journey, so, no, I'm not surprised."
Henderson is looking forward to extended action in the Vikings' third preseason game, when the starters get their most action of the preseason. He said he'll be "ready to rock," as if he didn't show that Sunday night against a physical San Francisco team.
"I know they are a running team. Our guys up front, especially (Kevin Williams), did a good job taking on the double teams, letting the 'backers run. Just gotta tackle and that's what happened," Henderson said.
More than the physical part of the game, which Henderson excels at, he was looking to get back in the mode of setting the defense as part of his job at middle linebacker. He said he didn't feel rusty, but game situations are different than anything the Vikings could simulate in training camp practices.
"(It was) just a matter of getting some reads, getting the flow," he said. "I had about two or three weeks to practice with these guys. Pretty good offense we faced. I think it was all smooth transition."
Despite returning to action for the first time since a gruesome injury, he said he wasn't concerned making his first hit.
"It felt good. It felt good to get some contact and get back up A-OK," he said. "Definitely a blessing."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Henderson's return to action a ‘blessing'
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