When Erin Henderson returns from his concussion he will only be returning in the base defense. On Thursday Judd Zulgad tweeted that Henderson was able to finish practice and “should” play Sunday, but said Jasper Brinkley will be staying in nickel.
Many were skeptical when Brinkley took over as the nickel corner in Henderson’s place. Brinkley wasn’t called upon to do much nickel duty in the San Francisco game, as the Vikes remained in their base defense for a good chunk of the time, and mixed in some dime. But against Detroit the Vikes were in nickel almost exclusively with Brinkley dropping in coverage. And Brinkley did a very good job all day. He even came up and made a tackle on Calvin Johnson to prevent a first down at one point. By day’s end, Brinkley had 10 tackles on his stat line and had earned the trust of his coaches.
Now does this mean Brinkley will be staying in as the nickel backer from here on out? I’m guessing it will be a game-to-game thing. As Henderson gets back into the flow, perhaps he will be reinserted. It bears mentioning that Henderson did commit one of the more glaring defensive gaffes of the early season when he failed to stay with Reggie Wayne on Andrew Luck’s 30-yard TD pass to the receiver late in the 2nd quarter against Indy. Henderson received a fair amount of criticism for that mistake and it’s possible the coaches are factoring that in here. No one looks at Brinkley as a great coverage linebacker but he hasn’t made any major mistakes yet either.
It’s something to keep an eye on.
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