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Continued: Erin Henderson eyes breakthrough as Vikings’ man in the middle

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 6, 2013 - 6:32 AM

“Because he can make plays in space, he can do all the things we need him to do. And most of all, the more he plays, the better he gets.”

Coach Leslie Frazier remains more measured, still calling for leadership growth. More than that, Frazier wants Henderson to prove he can heighten his discipline. At times, Henderson’s Achilles’ heel has been his want to deliver splash plays at the expense of sticking to routine but more important duties. Henderson’s eyes, he admits, have had a tendency to “get too big,” causing him to chase plays that weren’t his to make.

“At middle linebacker you have to be so much more disciplined than you do as an outside backer,” Frazier said. “So we just have to continue to harp on him about putting your eyes when they’re supposed to be.”

Still, in many ways Henderson believes the move inside actually will mitigate that weakness. On the weak side, he said, it took him time to understand the sacrifices he had to make to keep the defense humming. But now?

“I’m allowed to be more free,” he said. “I’m in the middle of things. I’m in the action. I’m able to go both ways and be in the mix all the time. So it’s not really me having to go search to make a play somewhere else, because usually everything’s funneled to me.”

A golden opportunity has funneled Henderson’s way. He recognizes that. He’s studying for the part. And the fire in his eyes has a chance to light a wick for a breakthrough.

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