E.J. Henderson (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
E.J. Henderson’s snaps could be limited Sunday after dealing with soreness and swelling in his knee, something he called a smart move for his long-term availability. Plus, a look at the penalty bug, Michael Jenkins’ progress and more.
The Vikings have two defensive starters – middle linebacker E.J. Henderson and safety Jarmarca Sanford – listed as questionable on their injury report.
Henderson has been bothered by soreness and swelling in his left knee, something he attributed to the titanium rod that was inserted into his leg after he fractured his femur in December 2009 playing against the Arizona Cardinals. Henderson had his knee drained once last year and again after Week 1 this year.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier indicated that Henderson’s snaps could be limited, but they expect to play him Sunday at Kansas City.
“Still a little sore. We’ll see how he does tomorrow, but we’re expecting to play him, but how much we’ll play him, we’ll see,” Frazier said Friday.
Henderson said he thought limiting his snaps would be a smart move for his long-term availability.
“If I was being honest with myself, I would say I’m not 100 percent. It’s definitely the coaches decision, but I think it’s the smart thing to maybe cut back on the reps a little bit and let it heal up a little bit,” he said.
“If I was being honest with myself, maybe when I look at the tape maybe I could see myself hobbling a little bit, but on Sundays you always feel like, ‘I’m feeling pretty good out here,’” Henderson said. “I definitely think it showed a little bit, especially toward the end of the game.”
Frazier said Xavier Adibi would be the next player in at middle linebacker, but he wouldn’t say that Adibi would be active on Sunday. Adibi was active in Week 2, three days after Henderson’s knee was drained, but he was inactive in the Vikings’ Week 1 and Week 3 games.
If Henderson can’t play, Frazier acknowledged that it could alter their defensive plans somewhat.
“It’s tougher. We count on him, especially in a game like this where they want to establish the run as well as hitting some plays in the passing game,” Frazier said. “But he’s a big part of what we do from a leadership standpoint as well as being a good football player. It’s tough when he’s not able to practice every day and we’re a little bit in limbo about how much he’ll be able to play on Sunday.”
Henderson was hopeful that his knee issue wouldn’t linger throughout the season.
“I hope not, but that’s part the plan right now to kind of back up, at least a little bit, not get 70 plays and see if it can calm down a little bit,” he said.
Henderson was the only player that was limited in Friday’s practice. Sanford was a full participant.
Running back Adrian Peterson, who was kneed in the calf on Sunday, was one of six Vikings listed as probable. Peterson didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, was limited on Thursday and was a full participant on Friday.
“He finished well today. He looks to be full strength,” Frazier said. “He was fine today. Nothing that he wasn’t able to do.”
CB Asher Allen (toe), CB Chris Cook (groin), S Tyrell Johnson (hip), TE Jim Kleinsasser (elbow), Peterson (calf) and DT Kevin Williams (foot) are all listed as probable, defined as a “virtual certainty” they will play.
Percy Harvin was expected to repeat his performance as the Vikings’ leading receiver, but so far free-agent acquisition Michael Jenkins is leading the pack and giving Harvin a run for his money.
Jenkins has 15 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown while Harvin has 12 catches for 130 yards and no receiving touchdowns.
"He does a great job of running routes and getting to the spot. He can catch the football,” Frazier said of Jenkins. “He does a good job wherever the ball is, he has a wide radius when it comes catching the football. Running precise routes and developing rapport with that quarterback comes back to that quarterback feeling confident that if I get it close to you, you're going to make that catch. And I think Michael has really shown that if you get it close, I'm going to make the catch."
HALEY HONEST IN ASSESSMENTS
On a conference call with Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday, construction above the Vikings media room intermittently made the conversation more challenging, but Chiefs coach Todd Haley was quick with a quip after being told there is a lot of rebuilding around Winter Park.
“We’ve got about nine jackhammers right now, two are just on break I guess,” Haley said, acknowledging that the Chiefs need to construct some changes, too. Both the Chiefs and Vikings are 0-3.
That wasn’t the only time Haley was critical of his team’s performance so far this year.
Asked about visiting teams trying to compete in Arrowhead Stadium, Haley said, “I think it’s only intimidating if [the Chiefs] are playing good football. I’m worried about this year. We had very good success last year at Arrowhead. For the most part, we really, truly developed the homefield advantage last year. When you’re not a very good football team, that intimidation factor disappears pretty quick.”
And when asked about the Vikings’ penalties, Haley said, “We’re by no means the model right now in any way, shape or form. We’ve got to be better in so many areas. Penalties is one of them.”
How bad have the Vikings’ penalties gotten? They rank second in the league with 27 penalties. Only Oakland with 30 has more.
“You have to continue to harp on it and the importance of playing clean football but playing physical football. We don’t want to take away our players’ aggressiveness, but we want to be smart about what we’re doing, in particular dead ball penalties, whether it be a personal foul or illegal procedure,” Frazier said. “Those are the ones that really drive you crazy and we have to do a better job with those.”
Even Steve Hutchinson is getting flagged for holding. Hutchinson got called last week for holding, the first time he’s been flagged for that since Week 8 of the 2009 regular season. That was the only other time Hutchinson has had a holding penalty called against him since joining the Vikings in 2006.
Frazier said he believes Percy Harvin is completely recovered from the illness that him throwing up on the sidelines of the fourth quarter on Sunday. "We haven’t had any setbacks this week," Frazier said. "He’s practiced and taken every rep. He’s been fine."
The Vikings had a left-footed punter kicker to punter returns Marcus Sherels, Greg Camarillo and Lorenzo Booker on Friday. It wasn’t a slap against Chris Kluwe. Instead, the Vikings were preparing their returners to face Dustin Colquitt, the left-footed punter who has been with Kansas City since 2005.
For the Chiefs, WR Jon Baldwin (thumb) is out. CB Brandon Flowers (ankle) and S Jon McGraw(shin) are questionable. DL Brandon Bair (illness) is probable.
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle Sunday.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.