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.