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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    Sep 2005

    E.J. Henderson counts on experience

    Published August 02, 2006 01:24 am

    Take a look around when the Vikings’ first-string defense is on the practice fields this week.

    [size=18px]Vikings LB counts on experience[/size]
    Four-year veteran E.J. Henderson steps up into leadership role

    By Shane Frederick
    The Free Press

    Take a look around when the Vikings’ first-string defense is on the practice fields this week.

    Look at the numbers. Look at the names. Look at who’s been in purple the longest.

    Kevin Williams and E.J. Henderson.

    There may be more experienced veterans at their positions on the roster, but it didn’t take long for those two players to become the old men of the Minnesota D.

    Just three seasons, to be exact.

    As Henderson begins his fourth year in Minnesota, he said he’s come to realize the significance of his tenure with the team.

    “I’ve kind of been the veteran who’s stepped up into a leadership role,” Henderson said. “I’ve tried to be more vocal.”

    The soft-spoken linebacker said you might not notice that so much on the field, but he’s letting his voice be heard in the meeting rooms.

    Henderson’s development into that role has been a process. For instance, he said, it didn’t come as naturally as it does for Vikings first-round draft pick Chad Greenway, who, like Henderson, is beginning camp as a weak-side linebacker.

    “He’s a young leader, even though he’s a rookie,” Henderson said of Greenway. “Even myself, when I was a rookie, I was miles away from where he is now.”

    The drafting of Greenway and the addition of free agent and fifth-year veteran Ben Leber, Henderson said, make for the most talented linebacking corps the Vikings have had since he’s been around.

    The group made an impact with some notable hard hits on Tuesday morning, camp’s first session in full pads.

    “We’re going to come out and make a statement,” Henderson said. “We’re going to come out and hit you every day, all day.”

    Henderson has played both the middle (Mike) and the weak side (Will) during his Vikings career, compiling 102 tackles last year and a team-high 125 in 2004. Although he is starting this training camp as the Will, he’s learning both positions in the Tampa 2 defense, coordinator Mike Tomlin said.

    Right now, Tomlin said, Napoleon Harris and Dontarrious Thomas are learning both the middle and the strong-side (Sam) positions, while Henderson is cross-training between Mike and Will.

    “I know how to play both,” Henderson said, “and as long as they put the three best linebackers out there, I’m cool with that.”

    Only Leber is set on the strong side, Henderson said.

    During the offseason, Henderson was given a DVD to watch that featured how the linebackers run in the Tampa 2. He said he watched a lot of highlights of Buccaneers All-Pro playmaker Derrick Brooks on the weak side.

    If he stays at the Will, Henderson said, “I’ll have a chance to pick off a lot of balls like Derrick Brooks did. ...

    “It’s a good feeling to be in this position.”

    Both on the field and off.

    Vikings LB counts on experience

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Benet's Avatar
    Benet is offline Star Spokesman
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    Dec 1969

    Re: E.J. Henderson counts on experience

    Good for him, I hope that exposure to Derrick Brooks rubs off on him!

  3. #3
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: E.J. Henderson counts on experience

    Sounds like he is hoping to be the WILL. He doesn't have what it takes to be a vocal leader in the middle. Hopefully Napo does better under some quality coaching.

  4. #4
    whackthepack is offline Jersey Retired
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    Dec 1969

    Re: E.J. Henderson counts on experience

    Hard to believe the 2 Vikings on D that have been with the the team the longest is Henderson and K.Will!

    Good article and I hope that he does start to live up to some of the potential that he had because it is make or break time for EJ!
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  5. #5
    Aberration's Avatar
    Aberration is offline Rookie
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    Dec 1969

    Re: E.J. Henderson counts on experience

    Offord was from the same draft as EJ... so Williams is 3rd in tenure on the D

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