Backup linebacker Erin Henderson has been suspended without pay for the Vikings' next four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. Henderson's suspension will begin immediately and he will have to sit out the team's final regular-season games against Carolina, Chicago and the New York Giants as well as the team's first playoff game.
He will be eligible to return to the Vikings' active roster on the day following the Vikings' first playoff game. Henderson will lose 3/17ths of his $385,000 salary ($67,850) and also a winner or loser's share from the first post season game in which the Vikings play.
The Vikings promoted linebacker J Leman from their practice squad to take Henderson’s place on the 53-man roster. Leman, who played college football at Illinois and originally was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Vikings in 2008, was added to the team’s practice squad last week. Henderson was put on the Vikings’ reserve/suspended list.
Vikings players were off Tuesday, so there was no media access at Winter Park. A late update: Talked to Henderson's agent, Brian Mackler, this evening and he said he would have no comment on the suspension. The Vikings also aren't going to comment until Wednesday when we have access to coach Brad Childress.
Henderson is the younger brother of Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, who was lost for the season on Dec. 6 when he broke his leg against Arizona. Erin Henderson, signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 2008, had only been active for one game this season before Sunday but he was on the 45-man game-day roster against the Bengals last weekend and played on special teams.
Henderson had three tackles on special teams in the Vikings' victory and had five special teams tackles on the season. Henderson also recovered Darius Reynaud's fumble in the third quarter after the Vikings return man lost control of the football.
While the NFL announced the suspension it did not specify what performance enhancing substance for which Henderson tested positive. The Vikings faced having Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams suspended for four games for violating the same policy late last season but a subsequent lawsuit against the NFL has kept the two eligible.
Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards was suspended for four games in December 2007 for violating this policy. He never did say what he tested positive for but Edwards' agent said his client took a workout supplement that had banned ingredients.
It's unclear whether Henderson appealed his penalty, but the NFL does not announce punishments until the end of any appeals process. Players can be penalized under the NFL's steroid policy for a variety of infractions -- including a missed test, a positive test or the discovery of masking agents in their urine.
In-season tests are ordinarily conducted on two days each week and each player that is tested is notified on the day of the test. A second positive test results in a suspension of eight games.
With Leman promoted to the active roster, the Vikings re-signed cornerback DeAndre Wright to their practice squad.