I caught up with former Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson over lunch this week. Henderson, who played nine seasons for the Vikings, has retired from football after sitting out last season. Now his younger brother Erin will get a chance to start at middle linebacker for the Vikings this season.
My column on E.J. will be posted online Friday night and appear in Saturday’s print edition. But here are some of his thoughts on Erin’s transition to middle linebacker.
“I definitely think he will thrive in that role,” E.J. said. “I think you’ll see a lot more of his personality, even though you see a ton of it. But when you get the go-ahead to be that guy, three downs no matter what, you’re in front of the huddle.”
E.J. said he’s confident his brother can handle the demands of playing in the middle.
“Erin is a good athlete,” he said. “He is good in space. He’s been playing middle linebacker in nickel for three years. If I was worried about anything, which I’m not, it would be more him getting used to playing in the middle compared to playing in that bubble. You have to go a lot more different ways. You’re involved in the middle of the play versus being involved on the right side of the play. You’re getting mostly half of the action. In the middle, you’ve got to go everywhere. But I’m confident.”
I mentioned that Erin recently told 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero that he is upset by suggestions from fans and media that he’s not ready for that role.
“That’s good,” E.J. said. “That’s how he got here. With a chip on his shoulder.”
E.J. has remained in the Twin Cities and is doing a lot of work in the community. I’ll have more on that in my column. One of his initiatives is a youth fitness and diet program for elementary kids that he launched with former linebacker Ben Leber.
The program is called Youth Pro Fitness. Here is their website with schedule information for their summer camps.
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