Henderson says he's better, eyes MLB spot

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson is doing much better on a personal level, he says, after a Nov. 19 arrest for drunken driving and a subsequent personal issue that kept him from making the Vikings' next road trip to Green Bay. He said last month that the Vikings had given him the "tools and resources" to get things in order, and seemed optimistic about where he's at on Wednesday.

"This is my job, this is my responsibility to myself and my teammates," Henderson said. "This is something we agreed to do. It’s helped me. Just waking up every morning, it could be easy to look at our record, look at the weather outside and get down and feel bad and feel sad for yourself. But I’m able to work past that and get over that and look at the bright side."

Asked if he'd been dealing with depression, Henderson said, "It’s kind of hard to say. Depression is a weird word. They use it in different ways and throw it around in different ways. I think it was more so just the pressure of it all kind of coming to a head."

Henderson made little secret of his desire to play the middle linebacker position when the Vikings first talked about moving him there after the draft, and he showed agitation in several offseason interviews when he was asked about the possibility of the Vikings bringing in someone else to play the position. Wednesday was the second time in the past month he's talked about how he'd let the pressure of keeping a job in the NFL get to him, and while he's got a better perspective on things now, he says, he also wants to get back to playing in the middle.

The Vikings moved Henderson back to weakside linebacker after Audie Cole performed well at middle linebacker, and because the Vikings play so much nickel defense, Henderson has barely been on the field. He played eight snaps against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 8, and got just 12 last Sunday against the Eagles, including a couple at middle linebacker after Cole got shaken up by a block.

"It was almost kind of boring, honestly," Henderson said. "You go from being in the middle of everything and being in the mix all the time and being on the field all the downs to going back to playing the Will, which is not a glorious position at all by any stretch of the imagination. You’re coming off the field a lot of times with the nickel situations. It’s kind of been hard for me, a little tough."

Coach Leslie Frazier said earlier this month that the Vikings moved Henderson to the middle because of "the plight we were in," not necessarily because they envisioned Henderson as a middle linebacker, so it's tough to see Henderson changing the team's plans there. But Cole has only played four games there, and stranger things have certainly happened.

"I think I’m more than capable of getting the job done," Henderson said. "We’ll see what happens with everything and how it plays out."