According to Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500, linebacker Erin Henderson will not be starting for the Vikings this weekend as they host the San Francisco 49ers.
Marvin Mitchell will start for Henderson. Jasper Brinkley will stay on in nickel. Audie Cole will be active too. #Vikings
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 21, 2012
Notice that last part: “Audie Cole will be active too.” The possibility of Cole getting to play a few snaps on the starting lineup will probably have some Vikings fans excited. Perhaps it’s a slight consolation to the fact that the Vikings will be without their leading tackler in what could very well be their toughest game of the season.
Now, if this is the first time you’ve heard about Erin Henderson being injured, you wouldn’t be alone. Henderson missed practice this week due to a concussion he suffered in last week’s match-up. The concussion went unnoticed though until Wednesday when Henderson came out for practice and “did not feel right.”
Apart from a blown coverage last week against the Colts Reggie Wayne, Erin Henderson has looked great so far this season. Not only is he tied for 6th place in tackles in the league with an exceptional 22 combined tackles but he also leads the Vikings in sacks (2).
Marvin Mitchell, who will start in Erin Henderson’s place, was signed in the offseason by the Vikings for his “experience not only on special teams but also on defense.”
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams was asked about whether or not he was comfortable starting Mitchell this weekend.
“Marvin has been in ball games as a starter, he’s been in ball games as a backup, he’s played a lot of football so everything that happens is not new to him out there. That gives me comfort and when he’s been in ball games, he’s performed well so that gives me comfort that it’s not all new to him and we’re not playing guys that have not played a lot of football. Marvin has so I feel good about that,” Williams said.
It goes without saying that Marvin Mitchell will have big shoes to fill this Sunday and will be expected to step in and play a prominent role on the defense. The Vikings defense already had their hands full going up against a passing attack with a bunch of weapons in the 49ers. What was already a difficult task now seems even more daunting.
Alas, all we can do is hope for the best. Maybe even an interception? Nah…