Future uncertain for Vikings' E.J. Henderson

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2011 - 8:57 PM

The veteran middle linebacker realizes he might not return to the team in 2012.

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Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson

Photo: Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

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Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said he'd love to finish his career in Minnesota but realizes he could be down to his final two games as a Viking.

"I've had no contact [with management] about a contract," said Henderson, who is in the final season of his current deal. "It kind of surprises me. I thought maybe we would have tried to get something worked out by now or at least have started to talk about something. But who knows what's going on upstairs. They have a lot of things to deal with. The coaches, the [front office], the owner, they got a lot to deal with after this season."

Henderson, the team's second-round draft pick in 2003, has started 103 of his 123 games as a Viking. He's one of only eight linebackers in franchise history to play in 100 games.

Henderson is a leader on the defense and in the locker room. He's also second on the team with 105 tackles, including a season-high 15 in last week's loss to the Saints. But he does turn 32 next August, when his heir apparent, 26-year-old Jasper Brinkley, will be coming back from hip surgery that sidelined him all of this season.

"Everything's up in the air right now," Henderson said. "My focus is on playing the best I can in these last two games so that when the coaches watch the film, I'm not one of the guys exiting."

Sling it, Christian

Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder admitted that his two-game turnover spree against the Broncos (three) and Lions (four) made him too conservative in Sunday's 42-20 loss to the Saints. He vowed to change that starting Saturday at Washington.

"I have to go out and have fun and know that we can make plays left and right and not be conservative with the ball," he said. "That's not me. I can't play not to lose. I have to play to win."

Quenching a drought

It's probably a good time for Adrian Peterson to be playing the Redskins' 29th-ranked run defense.

Peterson didn't aggravate his high ankle sprain, so he's likely healthier than the 85 percent he said he was last week. He's eager to carry the ball more than the 10 times he touched it last week. And it has been 59 days and counting since his last 100-yard game.

That's eight weeks, a career-long stretch. Since Peterson ran for 175 yards on 24 carries against the Packers in Week 7, Peterson has only 220 yards on 50 carries.

Hutchinson, Allen sit

Left guard Steve Hutchinson and cornerback Asher Allen both missed Wednesday's practice because of concussions. Limited in practice were: linebacker Erin Henderson (illness), defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee), right guard Anthony Herrera (knee) and safety Jarrad Page (hamstring).

If Hutchinson can't play, Joe Berger will make his sixth start at his third different position this season. He started once at center and four times at right guard. He also played 2 1/2 series at left guard after Hutchinson was injured on Sunday.

"When he was in there, he did a fine job, so we're not stressed," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We'd like to have Steve for sure, but Joe showed that he can get the job done."

If Allen can't play, the Vikings likely would start Benny Sapp and Marcus Sherels. Frazier said he's talked to former starting cornerback Cedric Griffin and will evaluate this week's practices before determining how to use him and the other available cornerbacks on Saturday.

Etc.

• The Vikings have a league-low six interceptions. If you're worried that perhaps six interceptions might be the worst by an NFL team in a 16-game season, relax. The 2008 Lions, who finished 0-16, had only four interceptions. The 2005 Raiders had five.

• Quote of the day: "It's definitely a relief, but at the same time, you never know." -- Receiver Percy Harvin, when asked if he's relieved by reports that ownership has told Frazier he is coming back next season.

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