Vikings try to move on from Henderson’s injury
The Minnesota Vikings know that injuries are a way of life in
the NFL. They happen and teams move on.
Yet many of the most hardened veterans were still shaken on
Monday, less than 24 hours after middle linebacker E.J. Henderson
broke his left leg in chilling fashion against the Arizona
“It’s a sick and gruesome reminder of how violent the game can
be,” linebacker Ben Leber said. “You sometimes, a lot of times,
forget about it. You don’t think about it. It is a painful reminder
of what this game’s about.”
Henderson was injured in the fourth quarter of a 30-17 loss to
the Cardinals. As he chased down running back Tim Hightower,
Henderson collided with safety Jamarca Sanford. The captain, an
immensely respected leader of a proud veteran defense, went
airborne with his left leg flopping brutally to the ground.
He was taken off the field on a stretcher with his younger
brother and teammate Erin, who was inactive for the game, clutching
his hands and offering support.
Henderson remained in intensive care at a Phoenix hospital
following surgery and coach Brad Childress said he hoped Henderson
would return home by the end of the week. Childress said the
surgery went well and Henderson was in “good spirits” on
He may have been the only one.
The Vikings (10-2) were dominated by the Cardinals on Sunday
night, though the horrific nature of Henderson’s injury
overshadowed their first loss in six games.
“It’s just a vicious injury and something you never want to see
happen to anybody, specifically, somebody that’s on your team and
somebody that is playing beside you all the time,” linebacker Chad
Some players were near tears in the locker room after the game,
feeling sympathy for a player who had worked so hard to get back
after missing 12 games last season with a foot injury. Henderson
got off to a slow start this season, but had played well in the
last month as the Vikings piled up the victories. He was the team’s
leading tackler, and had 10 more on Sunday before he was
“Going through what he went through last year, kind of just a
quirky injury that held him out, I saw how much it hurt him,”
Leber said. “He battled back and did everything right all the way
through the offseason. He was having another tremendous year. I was
just sickened for him. To lose a player like that and a friend like
that was hard.”
Childress said rookie fifth-round draft pick Jasper Brinkley
will fill in for Henderson in Minnesota’s base defense, beginning
Sunday against Cincinnati. After Henderson went down last year, the
Vikings played more of their nickel package, with Greenway and
Leber the only two linebackers on the field. That could happen
again this time around.
“He’s a great rallying force,” Childress said of Henderson.
“He’s a good football player. He’s a good leader; a quiet leader.
But you get past that.
“You may not replace him physically, but you do get past that.
You have to get past it because we have a quarter of the regular
The question is, will Henderson get past it? The nastiness of
the broken femur has some wondering if he will ever make it back on
the field. Childress said there was no timeline yet for his
“You never know. Something like that it’s unfortunately so bad
you have to actually ask those questions,” Greenway said. “But
the way he is, he’s one of the tougher guys I’ve ever been around.
… so God willing he’ll be able to heal well and get back in due
time. And I know the organization we have, they’ll support him and
be behind him because that’s just the kind of people they
Leber was more emphatic.
“Oh yeah without a doubt,” Leber said. “We don’t know right
now how long. But knowing his personality and what he’s been
through, he’ll be back. This is not a career-ending type of deal.
He’ll be back for sure.”