Posted by Andy Benoit
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote a very compelling piece on Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson today. Few expected Henderson to be on the field for 2010 training camp. The seventh-year pro was arguably the best 4-3 middle linebacker in all of football last season, but he suffered a gruesome fractured femur in December that, many believe, put his chances of ever playing again on the wrong side of 50/50.
After the injury, doctors placed a permanent titanium rod in Henderson’s leg. He was in a wheelchair for six weeks, on crutches for another six weeks and walking with a cane for six weeks after that. It seemed his likely best-case scenario would be to get placed on PUP for training camp and sneak onto the 53-man roster sometime after all the trees lost their leaves.
But instead, Henderson is on the field and, in his estimation, competing for the Week 1 starting job (at this point, his replacement, second-year pro Jasper Brinkley, still has the edge, but that’s subject to change). Seifert writes:
Henderson has cut his original recovery timetable in half, and in the process surpassed every milestone set in front of him. His final hurdle will be a big one -- actual game experience -- but it's not out of the question that he could play in Saturday's preseason opener at St. Louis.
"I've pretty much known I would get back as soon as I was able to walk again," Henderson said. "Seeing the progress I made each and every week, I knew I would be ready to rock."
Initial reports suggested it would take up to a year for Henderson's leg to heal, but in their first meeting after the injury, Henderson told Vikings coach Brad Childress that he would "set a whole new protocol" for rehabilitating the injury.
Childress wanted to play it safe and put Henderson on PUP, but Henderson proved to be well-conditioned and ready to go. In fact, he’s been working with the first team defense this week. He still has more mountains to climb, but at this rate, Henderson is poised to claim the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award before Halloween.
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