Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson has been able to go through an entire practice this week despite still suffering from a knee injury. Henderson has battled injuries all season, first with a shoulder and now a knee.
Henderson still leads the Vikings in tackles but he’s not quite back to the level he was playing at last year before he suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 4.
Henderson admits he’s not 100 percent physically but he refuses to use that as an excuse.
“I think I’ve left a couple of plays on the field through the season, but it’s a process,” he said. “Keep grinding. You hate to use excuses and say, ‘I missed a lot of time last year.’ You don’t want to make excuses for anything. You don’t want any reason to say, ‘Well, I’m not at the same level I was at.’ I’m just going to keep going at it like I have been and when those splash plays come, try and make them.
“It’s a process. Nobody is more frustrated with the process than me. I want it to happen yesterday, but it’s hard to be frustrated when you’re 8-1. We use the phrase ‘Together we eat.’ We have a lot of guys on this team playing well right, playing good football. As an individual, you want your football to be the best. You want to feel like your pulling your weight. I’m going to continue to do that and hopefully find those splash plays.”
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier often mentions the “splash” plays that Henderson has made in the past, those big hits that give the entire defense energy. Henderson said he doesn’t feel like he’s made as many splash plays this season, but Frazier saw signs of progress last week against Detroit after Henderson had the bye week to improve physically.
“He’s been banged up a little bit this season,” Frazier said. “Had a shoulder injury early in the year that really affected him from a tackling standpoint, being as aggressive as he wants to be and now he has been dealing with a bit of a knee injury that he got a lot of treatment on during the bye week. The bye week was good for him and it showed in our Detroit game. He was more of the E.J. that you like to see. The explosiveness, the aggressiveness that you like out of E.J. and the decisiveness as well. He’s had to deal with some little nicks and bruises along the way that have kind of hindered him to a degree but yet he’s still playing at a high level for us. I expect now that we’ve had that bye week that his play will just continue to improve as we get through November and December, which is a big plus for us because when he’s playing at the high level that he can play there aren’t any better than E.J.”