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Updated: July 30th, 2013 8:44pm
Leslie Frazier 'encouraged' by Erin Henderson's early play at MLB

Leslie Frazier 'encouraged' by Erin Henderson's early play at MLB

by Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson is tired of explaining why the Vikings' moved him to middle linebacker and what that means.

Because to Henderson, that question has already been answered.

"You guys keep talking about it, bringing it up every chance you get," Henderson said. "I just have to earn the trust of my teammates, because that's what matters."

Coach Leslie Frazier was impressed with Henderson's bullheaded demeanor during Tuesday's practice, making a number of hits that echoed through the Mankato practice fields.

"It's encouraging," Frazier said. "We'll see how he continues to develop."

But Henderson wasn't always the first-team middle linebacker and there's no guarantee he will be to start the season.

When last year's middle linebacker, Jasper Brinkley, left to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, the Vikings needed to either sign a free agent, or open up the job internally.

They did both, signing free agent linebacker Desmond Bishop in late June and telling Henderson the job was his.

"[Henderson] played some middle for us in the past on third down situations," Frazier said. "Not so much in early downs. But he has some familiarity with it. There are some things that come naturally to him."

The initial thought was Bishop was signed in order to move Henderson back to his spot at weak-side linebacker, but Frazier quelled that rumor when he announced on the first day of training camp that Henderson would remain in the middle.

Frazier said there's work to be done with Henderson, who has been known to drift from his assignments in games, whether it's following the quarterback's eyes or trying to jump a different route out of his zone.

"You have to stay on [Henderson], from a coaching standpoint, and keep reminding him of how important it is just to make the plays he's supposed to make and not feel like he can cheat and make another play.," Frazier said. "That's been his negative, if there has been a negative, that's been it."

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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