Aug 17, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Audie Cole (57) returns an interception for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bills 36-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Audie Cole Is the #2 Mike Behind Erin Henderson

Leslie Frazier on Friday was kind enough to give us an update on the ever-fascinating weak and middle linebacker positions. Right now things look like this: Desmond Bishop is still at the Will and Erin Henderson is still at the Mike. How firm is Henderson’s grasp on the Mike job? Frazier praised Henderson’s maturation as a defensive leader and said he is “thriving” at the middle linebacker position. No change at that position is expected.

So it doesn’t look like Bishop will be getting a look inside any time soon. The Vikings reportedly like Bishop’s ability to play downhill – that makes him more of a Will-type – and they’re obviously satisfied with the way Henderson is progressing.

Oh and then there was this from Frazier: Everyone’s favorite preseason interception machine Audie Cole has taken over the #2 spot at the Mike behind Henderson.

“I like what Audie is doing,” Frazier said in praise of Cole, a 2012 draft pick who made little impression in his rookie year and entered 2013 as somewhat of a question mark.

What does Cole’s ascendency to a firm #2 behind Henderson mean for the linebacker race? It means that race is pretty much over. If the Vikings keep six linebackers, the corps will be Greenway, Henderson, Bishop and Cole plus rookies Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. If they keep seven, add Marvin Mitchell who brings the most to the table as a backup.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Cole has seemingly locked down a roster spot already. The Vikings have always liked his skills. He moves deceptively well and he obviously has some coverage instincts as his big preseason game last year demonstrated.

Right now I wouldn’t expect Cole to realistically push Erin Henderson for a starting job. He figures as a tough, tenacious Heath Farwell-type special teams ace and multi-position backup at this time. In the future, maybe we’ll see him in there as the starting Mike.

Meanwhile, say goodbye to Tyrone McKenzie and Larry Dean. It was nice knowing you guys.

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Tags: Minnesota Vikings

  • 3kolu

    As the pre-season unfolds, it’s obvious that the Vikings not only have talent at every position, but depth as well. Depth is an indication of the competence of the management and the coaching staff. Before the draft, the positions of need were CB, WR, DL and LB, most notably the Mike position. Since then, Rick Spielman and staff have not only addressed the Mike, but they have provided depth and competition at the both the Will and Mike positions. As noted, Audie Cole’s has solidified his role as the back-up to Henderson and will be playing special teams. Gerald Hodges will be the nickel LB and backup at OLB, probably the Will rather than the SAM. Michael Mauti is making his unbelievable comeback from his 3rd knee injury and looks to be inline to be a back-up to Chad Greenway. Mauti has the ability, toughness and football IQ to play all 3 LB spots. And, if he can stay healthy could be a future pro-bowler. The Vikes will probably bring back Marvin Mitchell and the future’s of Larry Dean and Tyrone Mckenzie seem to be headed toward the waiver wire.

  • MikeH123

    The Vikings obviously place a low priority on the middle linebacker position with a bunch of late round and undrafted picks. I always thought the Mike LB was the an important position including covering the seam between the safeties on pass plays. It appears the Vikings think they can excel by minimizing the quarterback of the defense like they do the offense. I am not buying their plans for 2013.

    • manbearpig01

      Not true. The vikings’ priority in the draft is taking the best available player. This has always been their philosophy. There was no reason to draft AP because Chester Taylor was lighting it up, but did because he was the best available. Their 2013 plans is the same as their 2012 plans.

      • MikeH123

        Not true. Christian Ponder wasn’t even close to the best player available when he was drafted.