Hard work. Resiliency. Production. The ingredients to success for Vikings middle linebacker
First for Henderson was hard work. He joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 2008 and at first was known simply as EJ Henderson’s little brother. Since then, though, Erin has grown exponentially as a player. He began as a deep reserve on the linebacker depth chart who carved out a niche on special teams.
Then it was resiliency. Year after year, Henderson climbed the depth chart, eventually ascending to the starting lineup on the outside and ultimately this year the Vikings elevated him to the starting middle linebacker role, a job #50 has embraced wholeheartedly.
And now it’s the production. Henderson leads the Vikings in tackles with 120 and is on pace for 214, a total that would be the highest for a Vikings defender since Scott Studwell’s 215 in 1983. In addition to leading the team in tackles, he also leads the team in tackles for loss with 13.0. Henderson is tied for the team lead with two interceptions, is tied for second on the team with 3.0 sacks and has added five quarterback hurries and three passes defensed for good measure. This season Henderson has been the Vikings leading tackler in five games, he has a tackle for loss in eight of nine games and he has double-digit tackles in seven of nine games.
Football is the ultimate team game, but often times the NFL is a league defined by it’s high-profile stars who enter amid much fanfare and earn mega-buck contracts. That’s why it’s refreshing to see stories like Henderson’s – stories of talented, hard-working players who pay their dues while gradually and methodically working their way up the depth chart to to earn reward and recognition for a job well done.
Did You Know?
-- Henderson is the second Vikings linebacker in team history to notch 2.0 sacks and an interception in the same game, joining only Mike Merriweather in 1989 against Detroit.
-- In the 2013 offseason Henderson capped a lifelong affection for big cats by joining with National Geographic Foundation, visiting their offices in Washington, DC and pledging a donation for the Foundation’s Big Cats Initiative.