The Minnesota Vikings are struggling both on and off the field.
Middle linebacker Erin Henderson became the latest to find trouble, when news of his drunken-driving arrest surfaced Wednesday. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson was jailed Nov. 9 and later charged with two counts of DWI. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson was released Monday mere hours after he was arrested following a fight with his girlfriend. Jefferson was charged Wednesday with one count of felony domestic assault by strangulation.
That's three police-blotter appearances in three weeks for a team with a 2-8-1 record.
"The fact that we have had three recent off field situations is unacceptable and disappointing," general manager Rick Spielman said in a prepared statement. "Our organization looks at each situation and the circumstances involved to determine our actions with those players and how to best move forward. The Vikings have a comprehensive approach with our player development program and excellent resources that are a part of this organization, but certainly we will take a methodical look at how we can improve upon our current programs to prevent these situations in the future."
Spielman left the questions from reporters about Henderson up to coach Leslie Frazier, who politely but uncomfortably declined to answer most of them. Henderson is expected to play, Frazier said, but not start Sunday against Chicago. Henderson didn't practice last week or play at Green Bay because of what the team described as a personal matter, and Frazier declined to answer whether the arrest and Henderson's absence were connected. He said Henderson was not being punished, however, by the team.
According to police in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, where the Vikings have their headquarters, Henderson was arrested Nov. 19 for probable cause driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance. As of Wednesday he had not been charged with a crime.
Henderson's attorney, David Valentini, filed a petition Wednesday in Hennepin County court to have his driver's license reinstated. Because Henderson registered a 0.11 blood alcohol concentration following a breath test, his license was automatically revoked. According to the petition, Henderson claimed police did not have "articulable grounds to make an investigatory stop" nor did they have "reasonable and probable cause" for arrest.
Henderson told reporters he was sorry for his teammates and the organization for "any embarrassment" he brought. He declined to speak specifically about his case. He also said his absence last week was "a mutual thing" between him and the team.
"It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be something that I needed in the long run, something I think will help me progress and become the person I'm capable of being and the man that I want to be," Henderson said.
He added: "This will give me the opportunity to really step back and look in the mirror and look at my reflection and become happier with the person that I am and the person that I know I can become. And like I said, I've been given a lot of great tools and a lot of resources by the program and by the organization here, something I'm very thankful for. I look forward to showing you guys the improvements of myself."
Audie Cole filled in for Henderson last week and will likely keep that spot. Cole had a team-high 13 tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits on Sunday.
"We came back on Monday, looked at the tape and verified some of the things that we saw in the game," Frazier said. "And you say, ‘How do you just sit this guy down and not give him a chance to show if he can continue this?' So we made the decision based on the way he performed, and we'll get a chance to see him play this Sunday and see how he does."
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was the most notable player on the injury report. He had yet to pass all of his post-concussion tests after getting hurt Sunday, but Frazier said he hoped the rookie could practice Thursday.
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The Vikings are considering how to proceed at linebacker after a solid performance from Audie Cole…