Middle man's availability front and center

E.J. Henderson (Tom Olmscheid/AP)

The Vikings probably won't know E.J. Henderson's status until later this week. If he isn't available, it could put pressure on first-year player David Herron for another start.

Last Sunday, linebacker David Herron got the start at middle linebacker due to disciplinary reasons against E.J. Henderson. This coming Monday, he may be starting due to injury reasons.

As the Vikings start their preparation for the New Orleans Saints, they will do so with Henderson a big question mark in the middle of the defense. Henderson went down in the second quarter of Sunday's game with what was described as "several dislocated toes" in his left foot. He returned to action briefly in the second half, but was sidelined again. On Monday, he was wearing a walking boot at Winter Park, according to head coach Brad Childress.

Due to the unique nature of the injury, the Vikings aren't putting a timetable on Henderson's return, saying that they were still researching the issue with doctors to see what the potential for recurrence is and are moving forward on the assumption that he will be out for at least the next game.

If Henderson can't go, Herron will likely get the call. In Sunday's game, Herron spent most of the time at MLB, but the team also had outside linebacker Ben Leber wearing the defensive communication helmet when Henderson was out. If needed, Leber could slide inside to play middle linebacker.

Herron's role with the team was far from defined when training camp opened and it was expected that Henderson and special teams ace Heath Farwell would be the two players on the middle linebacker depth chart. But when Farwell went down for the season with a knee injury, it opened a roster spot for Herron. Henderson's injury may open a starting slot for him.

For a player whose status with the Vikings was anything but assured when training camp began, Herron may be counted on heavily as the Vikings try to dig themselves out of a 1-3 hole that they have dug themselves for the second straight year.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings are 1-0 in games in which they were Las Vegas point spread favorites and 0-3 in games in which they were underdogs. They are three-point dogs to the Saints Monday.

  • Because of the Monday night game, the Vikings won't have a full practice today. They will start their preparation work Thursday with everything pushed back one day.

  • There are approximately 4,000 tickets remaining for the Oct. 12 game against Detroit. Due to the bye week coming in October and a road-heavy schedule, the Vikings have just one home game in the month of October.

  • The Saints will have a familiar face to Vikings fans on their roster Monday night. On Tuesday, the team re-signed Joey Harrington, who was cut in September because of injuries that reduced depth at other positions and required new, healthy bodies.

  • Another familiar NFC North player is returning to the league in a new location. The troubled Cincinnati Bengals added another problem child to their daycare center Tuesday, signing running back Cedric Benson, who was released by the Bears following a pair of alcohol-related arrests.

  • The Packers were weakened Tuesday with the announcement that DE Cullen Jenkins has been placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.

  • You have to feel a little sorry for Lane Kiffin, who was fired as the Raiders head coach. Anyone who saw Al Davis' long, rambling, at-times incoherent press conference realizes that Kiffin had the deck stacked against him and that Davis may not be in possession of a full deck. Davis is famous for hiring head coaches that have no previous head coaching experience, which some rationalize by saying that the coach is easier to control. He basically threw Kiffin under the bus Tuesday, blaming him directly for the team's lack of success.

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