Erin Henderson Misses Practice; Audie Cole May Get His First Start at Linebacker


August 10, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Scott Tolzien (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Audie Cole (57) during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The time may finally be coming for Audie Cole to make his mark in a regular season NFL game. We know Audie can get it done in the preseason – two pick-sixes against the Bills two years ago – but the former NC State Wolfpacker has yet to get his shot when the games actually count, except on special teams.

Now with MLB Erin Henderson missing practice, Cole may be in line for his first official NFL start.

Leslie Frazier gave an update on the situation after Thursday’s practice. Henderson, he said, is away from the team dealing with a personal issue. Audie Cole is the next man up at middle linebacker and is being prepared to start this weekend against Green Bay if Henderson can’t go.

Michael Mauti was also in the running to start at Mike, but the Penn State rookie tweaked his surgically repaired knee during the Seattle game and is taking it easy this week.

A crazy turnaround for Audie Cole, who just a couple weeks ago was cut so the Vikings could add practice squad offensive lineman Kevin Murphy to the roster. But Cole wasn’t on the street for long. Once the Vikings no longer needed the O-line depth provided by Murphy, they sent him back to the practice squad and re-signed Cole.

I know a lot of fans are curious to see what Audie Cole can do in real game action at the Mike. He has been a bit of a fan favorite since those two pick-sixes in the preseason two years ago. But that was against second-teamers in an exhibition game. Cole will now have to suit up in a game that matters against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.

Cole is already well-acquainted with one member of that Packers squad, having sacked current Packers starting QB Scott Tolzien during a 2012 preseason game against Tolzien’s then-team the 49ers. Cole was pretty much the Vikings’ defensive MVP during the 2012 preseason.

If Cole sacks Tolzien this week, it will be big news. It will be even bigger news if he collects two pick-sixes. I’d be happy if he just plays a decent ball game and doesn’t embarrass himself.

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