Erin Henderson is the Vikings’ starting middle linebacker right now. He has been all offseason, taking all the reps there during Organized Team Activities and again Tuesday on the first day of the team’s three-day mini-camp. It’s a role Henderson took on after the Vikings let last year’s starter, Jasper Brinkley, walk in free agency. And it’s a role Henderson has no plans to relinquish, even with the new buzz that recently released Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop is ready for a visit and a Wednesday workout with the Vikings.
“I’m playing the mike,” Henderson said after Tuesday’s practice.
Still, the speculation on whether Henderson will hold that job when the season opens Sept. 8 in Detroit continues to swirl. And it’s nothing new to the sixth-year vet.
First, there was significant buzz that the organization would eye Manti Te’o in April’s draft, a situation that didn’t materialize when General Manager Rick Spielman used three first-round draft picks on defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. And the Te’o chatter was both preceded and followed by unfounded reports that the Vikings might make a strong run at Brian Urlacher.
Now? It appears Bishop could threaten Henderson’s vision.
Bishop, an impact player in 2011 with the Packers missed all of 2012 with a torn tendon in his hamstring. He was released by Green Bay on Monday and the Vikings wasted little time reaching out. So how has that sat with Henderson?
“It’s cool. I hope it goes well for him [and] the Vikings like what they see,” he said. “[I’d] welcome him with open arms, welcome him to the team. Not really sure what it’s about. I’m just employee No. 50, baby. I just come out here and do what they ask me to do on the field.”
Henderson refused to address a hypothetical question from a reporter who wondered if he’d be deflated if Bishop were signed and he was asked to move back to the slot at weakside linebacker, a slot currently occupied by Marvin Mitchell.
Said Henderson: ““That’s a lot of ifs. I don’t really want to think about it that way. I have a chance to play Mike now, I don’t see why I would let it slip out of my hands or let it go any other way. So, that’s what my mindset is and that’s what I’m thinking.”
Stay tuned. We’ll have more on the Bishop situation as it unfolds. The Vikings, meanwhile, will return to the practice field Wednesday morning for a walk-through with the afternoon practice then opened to reporters.
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