Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson (50) celebrates his tackle against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers win 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Erin Henderson may have lost more than just his reputation as a good guy after his arrest last week for DWI (an arrest that didn’t come to light until today). He may also have permanently lost his starting job at middle linebacker with the Vikings.
Henderson was popped last Tuesday in Eden Prairie after a traffic stop and by “mutual decision” with the team, stayed away from practice all week and did not play Sunday against Green Bay. Audie Cole got the call at MLB with Henderson on self-imposed unofficial suspension (with pay) and proceeded to have a very good game.
Cole’s performance against the Packers complicated things for Henderson just a little bit. Henderson probably anticipated stepping back into the starting lineup after his one-week exile, but Cole was so good that Leslie Frazier had no choice but to consider leaving him in as the starter.
Henderson returned to practice on Wednesday to make all the usual apologies and resume his life as an NFL player. But he will not be back in the starting lineup this weekend against Chicago. Instead, Audie Cole will get the start and Henderson will be his backup.
There had been speculation that Cole and Henderson might play side-by-side, Henderson at the Will and Cole at the Mike, but Frazier made it clear that Henderson for now is solely a Mike.
Should we take Henderson’s demotion to #2 MLB as a punitive measure by a fed-up coach, or is Henderson in fact permanently finished as the starter? I guess it depends on how Cole performs on Sunday. Another strong game by Cole would probably spell doom for Henderson.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Henderson after the terrible choice he made last Tuesday. Audie Cole probably doesn’t feel great about the way his opportunity came about, but that won’t stop him from making the most of it.