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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Notebook: Nothing to worry about, Henderson is ‘full go’ and will play

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson screamed and kicked a cooler with the non-injured leg after hobbling off the practice field on Thursday afternoon.

It appeared Henderson didn’t know how threatening — or how non-threatening — his injured ankle could be to his season. After Thursday’s practice, coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson was stepped on and should be fine.

Henderson did not participate on Friday and watched practice in sandals. But Frazier said he will play at the San Francisco 49ers without limitations on Sunday.

“He is full go, unless he tells us that it is bothering him,” Frazier said. “But we think at this point he will be a full go.”

The Vikings aren’t necessarily in a comfort zone when it comes to linebacker depth. Behind Henderson is second-year pro Audie Cole, who has impressed in training camp and preseason games, but lacks the regular season experience to step in and immediately lead the defense.

Much like a quarterback, the middle linebacker can audible plays if he feels the defensive call doesn’t match what he’s seeing on the field.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Henderson is already at that point, even though he’s in his first year in the middle.

“A good mike linebacker can make a coordinator right. That is what we look for, that when I mess up, they make it right,” Williams said. “Erin is at that stage where he knows what we want, the younger guys might not know right now.”

Settling down

In practice, rookie linebacker Michael Mauti is doing all the little things — prodding the ball from running back Adrian Peterson’s hands as Peterson crosses the goal line to sprinting to pick up a loose ball that a receiver didn’t bother to grab.

But as he still wears a brace on his left knee after his third ACL tear in November, Mauti said his previous knee injuries don’t weigh on his mind and it helps to slow the game down by playing on it, not rest, as he’s featured on the first-team kickoff unit among other special teams.

“That’s like a dream,” Mauti said. “If you’re a linebacker and you don’t love kickoff, than you’re not a linebacker.”

Practices help Mauti gel with his teammates, as he said he prefers to go to Henderson or linebacker Chad Greenway when he needs help instead of falling back to former Penn State teammate and fellow rookie linebacker Gerald Hodges.

Mauti said he benefits most from game situations, because he can watch the tape afterwards and critique himself. Mauti added the game is already slowing down for him after just two preseason games.

But when is the brace coming off?

“That’s kind of going to be a feel thing,” Mauti said. “Maybe mid-to-later in the season when I’m not worried about it so much.”

They’re going to play him?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will receive his first preseason handoff since 2011 when he trots out with the first-team offense on Sunday at San Francisco, according to Frazier.

Last time Peterson played in an exhibition game was on Aug. 27, 2011, when he carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. When directly asked, Frazier would not say whether or not Peterson is in line for double-digit carries on Sunday.

“We’ve got some things in place for him and we will see how it goes as the game goes on,” Frazier said. “But he has had a great training camp for us, and he was worked very hard while preparing himself. We will see how it goes as the game goes on.”

After rushing for 2,097 yards off zero preseason carries last season, Peterson has made it clear this offseason that he doesn’t care about preseason reps — if he gets them, great; if not, no big deal.

Late hits

•Receiver Jarius Wright participated during Friday’s practice, but Frazier said he won’t travel with the team Sunday.

“We are probably going to end up leaving Jarius [Wright] here,” Frazier said. “He has passed the NFL protocol test that is required, but we are going to not have him participate in this ball game.”

•With Wright in Minnesota, rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is in line to see reps with the first-team offense, but Frazier said that was the plan all along.

“He will get a number of opportunities,” Frazier said. “We had that in the plans anyway. It will be just a little more action for him, and we will just watch him keep progressing.”

•On top of taking the opening kickoff back 50 yards during the first preseason game on Aug. 9, Patterson has amassed six catches for 73 yards in two contests.

by Andrew Krammer

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