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Updated: May 3rd, 2013 1:12pm
Vikings still considering options at middle LB, Leslie Frazier says

Vikings still considering options at middle LB, Leslie Frazier says

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Leslie Frazier isn't ready to name Erin Henderson the Minnesota Vikings' middle linebacker yet. He's not even ready to call Henderson the front-runner.

Two days after Henderson told reporters he has put on weight and begun studying the position, Frazier said coaches want to observe this weekend's rookie minicamp before finalizing how they'll line up for organized team activity practices later this month.

"We'll probably make a decision here after we get done and just talk about some things," Frazier said on Friday afternoon. "But (Henderson is) definitely in the conversation."

Henderson, 26, has been the Vikings' weakside linebacker the past two seasons and signed a two-year, $4 million contract extension in March. He said on Wednesday he approached co-linebackers coach Fred Pagac early in the offseason about moving to the middle and was told after last weekend's NFL Draft that's where he'd open OTAs.

According to Frazier, though, the Vikings still are considering several options, including second-year pro Audie Cole, journeyman backup Tyrone McKenzie and rookie seventh-round draft pick Michael Mauti, who is coming off knee reconstruction and won't practice until training camp.

One of the things the Vikings no doubt want to gauge in rookie camp is the progress of fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges, who would be a candidate to take over for Henderson on the weak side, along with Marvin Mitchell and perhaps McKenzie, Frazier said.

Henderson wouldn't be totally new to the middle linebacker position, having split time in the nickel there last season with Jasper Brinkley, who played mike in the base defense and left to sign with Arizona in March.

General manager Rick Spielman also hasn't ruled out the possibility of signing a veteran to play the position, though his philosophy strongly suggests the Vikings will exhaust all in-house possibilities before considering that route.

"We've got some options," Frazier said on Friday, "but Erin is definitely one of those guys we're talking about."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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