EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson missed his second straight day of practice on Friday with soreness in his left knee.
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson will be a game-time decision, but he’s hopeful the Pro Bowler will be ready to play Sunday in the home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Henderson was listed on the team’s injury report as questionable.
A precautionary X-ray on Thursday didn’t show any damage, but the team remained cautious with the middle linebacker.
“We’ll probably work him out before the game and make a determination about whether or not we’re going to play him or not,” Frazier said. “He was little sore when he woke up this morning, so just didn’t want to come out here and make it worse. We’ll see how he feels in the next 48 hours.”
Henderson said he felt better Friday and is confident he will be ready for Sunday’s game after getting the knee drained Thursday and receiving treatment the past two days.
Henderson — the Vikings’ second-leading tackler last season with 139 tackles — woke up Wednesday with swelling and soreness in the knee. It’s the same leg in which Henderson broke trying to make a tackle against the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. A metal rod was placed in the leg and Henderson said he’s had occurrences of swelling in the knee since the surgery.
“I think we had one episode last year where it swelled up a lot,” Henderson said. “We pretty much had to do the same thing; drain it, treat it and I made it out there Sunday. This is nothing out the ordinary. Just maybe a little more swelling, a little more pain, but it’s something that we’re dealing with and hopefully, I’ll be ready to rock on Sunday.”
Henderson returned from the broken femur just a year later and has posted back-to-back seasons with over 100 tackles. He made the Pro Bowl last season.
“If there’s anybody who can play through things, E.J. Henderson can,” Frazier said. “So when he said that he was struggling a little bit, you have to pay attention. Because he never talks about injuries at all. It’s not who he is.”
Erin Henderson, E.J.’s brother, has practiced at middle linebacker the past two days, moving from the weak side linebacker spot. Frazier said Erin Henderson would start if E.J. wasn’t available Sunday with Kenny Onatolu taking over on the weak side. Erin Henderson would also take E.J’s spot in the nickel defense alongside Chad Greenway.
Defensive end Adrian Awasom (knee) returned to practice Friday, but was listed as questionable on the injury report. Cornerback Asher Allen (toe) missed last week’s game at San Diego, but has participated fully in practice this week and is listed as probable. Receiver Michael Jenkins (groin) is probable after practicing all week.
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