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Updated: June 18th, 2013 5:27pm
Erin Henderson remains confident he will be Vikings' middle linebacker

Erin Henderson remains confident he will be Vikings' middle linebacker

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are planning to put free-agent middle linebacker Desmond Bishop through a workout on Wednesday at Winter Park, but that information didn't seem to faze Erin Henderson or alter his opinion about what position he will play this season.

"I'm playing the Mike," Henderson said following the first day of the Vikings' three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

Henderson, who spent time in the middle in the nickel defense in 2012 but started on the weak side in the base package, expressed little emotion when asked about Bishop getting a look from the Vikings.

"It's cool," he said. "I hope it goes well for him (and) the Vikings like what they see. Welcome him with open arms, welcome him to the team. Not really sure what it's about. I'm just employee No. 50, baby. I just come out here and do what they ask me to do on the field. ...

"You definitely need as many good players as you can have. You never know what's going to happen throughout the season. All the ebbs and flows and ups and downs (of) 16 games. People get beat up, people get injured, get hurt. So it's always good to have people that can come in and play."

Henderson said he has spent 100 percent of his time during Organized Team Activities this offseason working in the middle and hasn't been approached by the Vikings about the possibility of someone else being brought in to take the job.

The Vikings lost starting middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley to Arizona last March in free agency. If Henderson ends up as the starter in the middle, it also will mean that veteran backup Marvin Mitchell or fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges (Penn State) might have to start on the outside. Mitchell has made three career starts in six seasons.

"I think every day I'm getting a little bit more comfortable and understanding better what the system is about and where things fit and where the pieces go," Henderson said of playing in the middle. "Understanding where I need to be and what I need to get done from that perspective. (I'm) really trying to understand the playbook better. Just understanding where things are going to pop open at and where the seams may be and where the team needs me at."

Henderson, who finished fourth on the Vikings last season with 112 tackles and added three sacks, declined to speculate on what would happen if Bishop signed with the Vikings and Henderson was moved back to the weak side.

"That's a lot of ifs," he said. "I don't really want to think about it that way. I have a chance to play Mike now, I don't see why I would let it slip out of my hands or let it go any other way. So, that's what my mindset is and that's what I'm thinking."

While Vikings coach Leslie Frazier declined to acknowledge that Bishop would be visiting the team, Bishop told ESPN Wisconsin on Monday that he was set to arrive in Minnesota on Tuesday and an NFL source said the workout would take place Wednesday.

Bishop was released by the Green Bay Packers on Monday after spending six seasons with the team. He was a starter in 2010 and 2011 but missed last season after suffering a torn hamstring in the Packers' preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 9.

The NFL Network reported Tuesday that the 28-year-old Bishop is scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday and Pro Football Talk said that the Jacksonville Jaguars also had expressed interest in the veteran.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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