When training camp opened 10 days ago, Erin Henderson was working as the Minnesota Vikings' first-team middle linebacker and Desmond Bishop was positioned with the second team at weak-side linebacker. As camp resumes Monday, Henderson appears more entrenched than ever while Bishop's status remains in as much question as ever.
Coach Leslie Frazier seems satisfied with Henderson's work and progress in the middle, and Bishop is sidelined by a groin injury that appears significant enough to keep him out of Friday's preseason opener. That news is especially disappointing for Bishop, who hasn't played in a game of any sort since tearing his hamstring tendon on Aug. 9, 2012.
The Vikings started him with the second team as a matter of routine while he learned their defensive scheme, but the assumption has been that he would eventually displace veteran special-teams player Marvin Mitchell on the weak side with the starters. The groin injury, which occurred last week, has complicated that plan.
Over the weekend, Frazier told reporters that "we really need to see him in some live situations … but we've got to be smart."
It appears, however, that Henderson has done enough in the first 10 days to lower the chances that Bishop could eventually replace him at middle linebacker.
"[Bishop] is doing well enough outside and Erin is doing well enough inside that that's not anything we have discussed of late," Frazier said. "We will see how it goes over the next few weeks, but so far so good…."
Frazier recounted an instance early in camp when Henderson gave a clipped answer to a young player asking a question, for which he was admonished by defensive coordinator Alan Williams. Since then, Henderson's attention to leadership has grown. In other words, he hasn't won the job simply by default.
"I think he is growing in that role," Frazier said. "It is important obviously for the defense, because you are like an extension of the defensive coordinator. He is getting better, and I like some of the things he is doing."