Audie Cole, Michael Mauti set for heavier workload with Henderson out
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings linebacker Michael Mauti has had an anterior cruciate ligament surgically repaired three times in his young career, but he's never experienced swelling in the repaired knee like he did after Sunday's loss at the Seattle Seahawks.
After Mauti continued to impress on special teams, knocking one Seahawks receiver out of the game on kick return and tackling another on a punt return attempt, he was limited this week as swelling went down in his left knee.
"On kickoff, [I] jammed it in the ground funny," Mauti said. "I was able to finish the game, nothing structurally wrong with it. Swelled up a little bit, tweaked it. I'm not concerned, just had to get the swelling out."
"I'll be good to go."
Linebacker Erin Henderson (personal) has been ruled out of Sunday's game at the Green Bay Packers after he missed practice this week. Linebacker Audie Cole will get his first career start, with Mauti likely rotating in, per coach Leslie Frazier. Henderson will not make the trip.
Listed as questionable, Mauti will more than likely play on Sunday. Frazier said his defensive snaps depend on how he's feeling after a few special teams snaps. He's been removed from the starting kickoff unit, but should still see time on kick return.
"We'll see how he does on special teams and what he has to say about that early on," Frazier said.
Mauti seemed ready to make that decision after Friday's practice, barring any unforeseen setbacks.
"I feel comfortable with it, on Sunday I'll be good to go," Mauti said.
Cole gets his first career start just weeks after the Vikings cut him on a short week before a Thursday night game to make room for offensive tackle depth. They resigned him shortly after the game.
"Obviously it's still not cool, it's not what you want to happen. I understand why they did it," Cole said. "Someone had to go, I wish it wasn't me but it was. You've just got to take it. It sucked, I came back and things have been going good for me lately."
He will likely retain Henderson's duties of calling and/or relaying plays to his defensive teammates as the middle linebacker on Sunday. He's been removed as a starter from most, if not all, special teams units for this game.
The second-year pro shined in his rookie preseason, returning multiple interceptions for touchdowns, but has been behind Henderson, the team's leading tackler, this season. He played six defensive snaps in last week's loss.
"We go through training camp and each week I'm still getting reps doing those kind of things," Cole said. "I don't think it's really too difficult. Obviously once the balls start flying, things are happening real fast around you and you've just got to calm down and rely on what you've learned and what they taught you."