Vikings coach Brad Childress said middle linebacker E.J. Henderson had successful surgery on his left leg after suffering a fractured femur in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's 30-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Childress said Henderson spent the night in an intensive care unit at a Phoenix-area hospital and is expected to return to the Twin Cities later this week.
Childress said it's too early to know the long-term prognosis for Henderson.
"He's a spartan so wish him the best in his rehab and his care," Childress said.
Henderson suffered the injury when he was hit by rookie safety Jamarca Sanford while trying to tackle Tim Hightower. Henderson's teammates were clearly upset and sad in the locker room after the game, but Childress said he thinks his team will respond appropriately to losing its defensive captain and emotional leader.
"He's a great rallying force," Childress said. "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 get past that. You have to get past it because we have a quarter of the regular season left."
Childress said rookie Jasper Brinkley will likely take over as the starter with Ben Leber playing in the middle in nickel situations. Childress said the team also is looking at free agents but not necessarily just linebackers. He said a decision on whether to sign a free agent could come later this week.