E.J. Henderson was fine after the game on Sunday and fine in practice early in the week. Then on Thursday morning he woke up with swelling in his knee and was held out of practice. An X-ray on Thursday showed no structural damage. Nonetheless Henderson was held out of practice again on Friday, and will likely be listed as doubtful on the injury report when it is released later this afternoon.
Mark Craig says Erin Henderson got the reps at middle linebacker in practice Friday in place of his brother, while Kenny Onatolu took the snaps at weak-side linebacker. The Vikings’ other linebacker options include Xavier Adibi, who was inactive last week against San Diego, and Larry Dean who is mostly a special teams guy at this point. The Vikings had expected to go into the season with Jasper Brinkley backing up E.J. but Brinkley is on IR after hip surgery.
Last year cornerback was the position that got all messed up because of injuries, this year it’s linebacker. The thing we’re hoping for now is that E.J.’s knee will get better with a week of rest. The X-ray showed no structural damage so hopefully this is just a minor thing that will clear up.
It’s pretty obvious the defense will be without E.J. on Sunday which will be good news for LaGarrette Blount and the rest of the Bucs offense. Erin Henderson will be sorely tested in the middle, a position of much more responsibility than the weak-side. The big question will be, how does Erin hold up in nickel situations where instead of standing on the sideline he will be trying to deal with guys like Kellen Winslow?
Update: Leslie Frazier says E.J. will be a game-time decision. Maybe he’ll play after all.