Vikings: Henderson out, Cole starts at MLB

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will officially be without middle linebacker Erin Henderson on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Henderson is out because of a personal matter, coach Leslie Frazier said, and second-year man Audie Cole will start in his place.

Rookie Michael Mauti could also see time there, though Mauti is questionable after aggravating his surgically repaired left knee last Sunday in Seattle. Frazier said the Vikings will see how Mauti does on special teams before making any more determinations about whether he will play on defense.

The Vikings also have to decide whether Cole or strongside linebacker Chad Greenway will run the Vikings' huddle; Frazier said the Vikings have had both Cole and Greenway relaying play calls in practice this week. Cole said he's prepared to handle the job, and the fact that he will likely stay on the field in the nickel package would lend some consistency to the defense if Cole is indeed running it.

Cole was released on Nov. 7, when the Vikings needed to make room for an extra offensive lineman before their game against the Washington Redskins, but the team brought him back two days later. Now, the former seventh-round pick is getting his chance to start.

"They told me [they wanted to bring me back when they cut me]," Cole said. "Obviously it’s still not cool. It’s not what you want to happen. I understand why they did it. Someone had to go; I wish it wasn’t me but it was. You’ve just got to take it. It sucked, I came back and things have been going good for me lately."

In other Vikings injury news:

  • Both running back Adrian Peterson (groin) and wide receiver Greg Jennings (Achilles) are listed as questionable -- possibly a sign of caution after Jennings went from probable to inactive last week against Seattle -- but both are expected to play on Sunday.

  • Defensive end Brian Robison is questionable with muscle spasms in his neck -- "It was just something that popped out of nowhere," Robison said -- but he remains optimistic he'll be able to play. If he can't, the Vikings would put Everson Griffen at right end, and might either have to use a defensive tackle to spell Griffen and Jared Allen or move Justin Trattou up from the practice squad.

  • Center John Sullivan has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol; he's questionable, but Frazier said he expects Sullivan will be ready to play.

  • Cornerback Josh Robinson (fractured sternum) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (fractured foot) are both out.

  • Allen (back) was a full participant on Friday and is probable. So is running back Matt Asiata (shoulder), linebacker Chad Greenway (wrist) and quarterback Christian Ponder (left shoulder).