Notebook: With Erin Henderson out, Marvin Mitchell gets his chance
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Marvin Mitchell got a modest $25,000 signing bonus on the one-year, $725,000 contract he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in April.
More important in choosing his third NFL home was the opportunity to start -- a chance he'll get on Sunday against San Francisco.
The Vikings ruled out weakside linebacker Erin Henderson because of a concussion on Friday, meaning Mitchell will make his regular-season Vikings debut with the starting base defense against the 49ers.
"I've been in this league six years, and I had a couple starts here and there, special teams guy," said Mitchell, who appeared in 71 games with two starts over his first five seasons with New Orleans (2007 to '10) and Miami (2011).
"I visited with the (Vikings), and they said the opportunity and the chance to come in and be that backup linebacker and get a chance to start would be there."
The Vikings re-signed Henderson to a one-year, $1.75 million deal in late March and he never really faced a challenge for the job.
Through two games, Henderson leads the Vikings with 26 tackles (20 solo) and two sacks, his only real hiccup the 30-yard touchdown he allowed against Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne in last week's loss.
"He's been doing a good job for us," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He had a real good game a week ago, the one exception that one play. But I don't know if it overshadows all the good things it did in that ballgame.
"We'll miss him. There's no question about it. But it gives someone else an opportunity. Marvin Mitchell will get a chance now."
This was the situation the Vikings envisioned when they signed Mitchell after going through the 2011 season with little experienced depth after top backup Jasper Brinkley underwent season-ending hip surgery during camp.
But Mitchell suffered a high left ankle sprain in the Aug. 30 exhibition finale at Houston and was inactive the past two weeks, forcing Tyrone McKenzie into action after Henderson dropped out against the Colts.
"What he'll miss is the speed of the game, this being his first week back," Frazier said. "That'll be an adjustment for him, and hopefully, it won't take him a lot of plays to adjust to that part of it."
Mitchell, 27, remained limited in practice last week but was listed on the injury report as a full participant each of the past three days.
"Ankle's doing fine, man," Mitchell said. "I made a little joke earlier -- they call me Wolverine, so I caught myself healing up fast, and hey, I love football so I've got to play through that pain. I think that's what everyone else is trying to do with injuries."
Henderson's absence also means rookie Audie Cole will be active for the first time and Brinkley, now the starting middle linebacker, will stay on the field in nickel situations.
The Vikings had been shifting Henderson into Brinkley's spot as the "mike" linebacker in nickel because he's superior in coverage, while Brinkley's strength is as a downhill run player.
"This will be his chance just to show his teammates, along with everyone else, that you know what? I can do more than just play on first and second down," Frazier said. "It's a great opportunity for him and I know he's looking forward to it."
Part of Henderson's contract is tied up in weekly roster bonuses totaling $234,375 for the season. So, he'll lose out on at least one check for $15,625 this week.
The Vikings also ruled out backup end D'Aundre Reed because of a calf injury.
Everyone else on the Vikings' injury report -- Mitchell, center John Sullivan (ankle), safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle), cornerback Chris Cook (biceps), tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), end Brian Robison (elbow) and receiver Jarius Wright (ankle) -- were listed as probable.
Sullivan was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to full participation on Friday.
Asked how much the ankle bothered Sullivan against the Colts, Frazier said, "Not to a degree where he couldn't perform his duties. We took a little bit off of him this week in practice and don't expect any ill effects going into this ballgame."
The 49ers listed running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) and receiver Ted Ginn (ankle) as questionable. Jacobs didn't practice all week. Punter Andy Lee (hand) is probable.
Mike Singletary, Frazier's special assistant and co-linebackers coach, was on staff in San Francisco for six seasons, taking over as interim head coach midway through the 2008 season and keeping that job until his firing late in 2010.
Of the 53 players on the 49ers' active roster, roughly half (26) were on acquired in 2010 or earlier.
"We definitely picked his brain on some things regarding some of their people, and he was very helpful with both sides of the ball as well as special teams," Frazier said. "We definitely got him to conversate a little bit about their personnel, for sure."
Why didn't the Vikings run some clock with a squib kick late in regulation against the Colts?
"We felt like if they had to work from the 20, we were going to be all right," Frazier said. "But easily, in hindsight, you'd like to take more time off the clock. If you could turn back the clock on so many different situations, you'd try to do it, but that's not the reality and we felt like if they had to start from the 20, we were in pretty good shape."
Blair Walsh's kickoff went through the end zone for a touchback, keeping 31 seconds on the clock. The Colts drove 45 yards in 23 seconds and kicked the game-winning field goal.
• OT Troy Kropog signed a minimum practice-squad deal with a prorated base salary of $96,900.