Vikings: Erin Henderson at MLB?

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
12:30
PM ET
It appears that Erin Henderson has moved from a fallback option to the Minnesota Vikings' top choice to be their middle linebacker.

Speaking to reporters during a pause Tuesday in offseason workouts, Henderson said coaches have told him he likely will open organized team activities (OTAs) at the position. Henderson has bulked up to 248 pounds in preparation for the assignment, which comes after a five-year career on the outside.

We've always considered Henderson a possibility for this role, but coach Leslie Frazier suggested in March that the team wanted to find a long-term answer in the draft. That plan, widely believed to be focused on Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, went awry when the Vikings deemed three other players more valuable. After drafting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 23 and No. 25, respectively, the Vikings traded away their second- and third-round picks to draft receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 29.

Free agency remains a possibility for filling the role held by Henderson's brother, E.J. Henderson, before his departure after the 2011 season. (Jasper Brinkley, the 2012 starter, signed with the Arizona Cardinals in March.) We should note that OTAs are the time when NFL teams experiment with position changes before making final determinations for training camp. Sometimes they work. Other times, they are scrapped.

Henderson has been an outside linebacker since his college career at Maryland, but the Vikings have used him at times as the "mike" in nickel situations over the past two seasons. At the moment, at least, their roster has more candidates to fill in Henderson's outside position than it does to compete in the middle.

Possibilities to play outside include veterans Marvin Mitchell and Larry Dean, along with rookie Gerald Hodges, a fourth-round draft pick from Penn State. We'll see how it goes.

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