Top 5 Bright Spots of 2010: #2

Posted Jan 6, 2011

Coming in at #2 in the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season is Vikings middle LB E.J. Henderson’s comeback performance not even a year removed from suffering a season-ending injury late in the 2009 season – an injury that many thought could have ended his career.

On December 6, 2009 – a Week 13 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals – Henderson was in pursuit of Cardinals RB Tim Hightower as Vikings S Jamarca Sanford went low on Hightower to make the tackle. Hightower leaped over Sanford and the Vikings S came into contact with Henderson’s leg, breaking the LB’s femur, which was a grueling visual image.

Even after suffering such a demoralizing injury, there’s not much of anything that could prevent a man as strong-willed as Henderson from returning to the field. Henderson “changed the protocol” as to how the injury was rehabilitated by returning to the field in the 2010 season opener against the New Orleans Saints just 9 months after breaking his femur. His approach to coming back from the leg injury is incredible and inspiring, and it solidified his standing as one of the most respected players on the roster.

The marquee game of Henderson’s 2010 campaign came during the Week 6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field. Henderson registered 9 stops and picked off Cowboys QB Tony Romo twice.

The first INT came late in the 1st quarter on a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage; Henderson came down with the ball at the DAL 26 and returned it 10 yards, giving his offense a short to field to work with that eventually led to a Brett Favre-Greg Camarillo TD connection just 2 plays later.

Henderson’s 2nd INT against the Cowboys came midway through the 4th quarter. With the game tied at 21, Henderson faked a blitz up the middle on a 3rd and 2 attempt from the DAL 22 and then dropped back into coverage to grab his 2nd pick of the day. Henderson’s pick gave the Vikings offense a short field, once again, and eventually led to the game-winning 38-yard FG by K Ryan Longwell.

Henderson tallied 139 tackles in 2010, marking the 6th time in his 8-year career to record over 100 stops. He also registered a sack, forced fumble and a team-leading 3 INTs – a league-best among LBs and the most registered in 1 season by the former Maryland standout. His 2010 performance is worthy of the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and that’s why E.J.’s resurgence deserves #2 on the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season.