Vikings likely reducing E.J. Henderson's snaps: 'It's the smart thing'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It appears E.J. Henderson's sore left knee finally is going to cost him some game action.
The Minnesota Vikings' middle linebacker said after Friday's practice that he's probably "not 100 percent" and expects his snaps to be cut back in Sunday's game at Kansas City.
Henderson, who had a titanium rod inserted in the leg to repair a fractured femur in 2009, experienced significant swelling in the knee after playing 79 snaps in the Sept. 11 opener at San Diego. He has been limited in practice since and admitted his play suffered in 56 snaps on Sept. 18 against Tampa Bay and 67 snaps in Sunday's loss to Detroit.
"If I was being honest with myself, maybe when I looked at the tape, I could see myself hobbling a little bit," Henderson said. "But on Sundays, you always feel like I'm playing pretty good out here. But I definitely think it showed a little bit, especially toward the end of the game."
Henderson, 31, also had swelling in the knee last season. But he battled through the pain, played 94.5% of the defensive snaps and made his first Pro Bowl.
The problem now is "coming out of a break, stopping and starting," Henderson said, adding that "it's the smart thing to maybe cut back on the reps a little bit and let it heal up a little."
The Vikings listed Henderson as questionable on Friday's injury report.
"We'll see how he does (Saturday)," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We're expecting to play him. But how we'll play him, we'll see. He's still a little sore."
Frazier said the next man up would Xavier Adibi, who was claimed off waivers from Houston on Sept. 4 but has been inactive for two of three games. Henderson also plays in the nickel package along with strongside linebacker Chad Greenway and could be replaced there by his brother, weakside linebacker Erin Henderson.
"It's tougher," Frazier said. "We count on him, especially in a game like this where they want to establish the run along with hitting the plays in the passing game. But he's such a big part of what we do from a leadership standpoint as well as being a good football player. It's tough when he's not able to practice every day and we're a little bit in limbo about how much he'll be able to play on Sunday."
The timing isn't good for E.J. Henderson either. He's in the last season of a five-year contract that is paying him $4.7 million in base salary this season and can become a free agent in March.
Asked if the injury could hamper him all season, Henderson said, "I hope not. But I think that's part of the plan right now, to kind of back off, at least a little bit, not get 70 plays and see if it'll calm down a little bit."
The only other player listed as questionable on the Vikings' injury report was strong safety Jamarca Sanford, but he was a full participant in practice each of the past two days since being listed with a previously unrevealed thigh injury.
Halfback Adrian Peterson, who sat out Wednesday's practice with a calf bruise, was a full participant on Friday and is probable.
"He finished well (Friday)," Frazier said. "He looks to be full strength."