As if a 2-8-1 record that includes four blown leads in the final minute weren't enough, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier spent the day before Thanksgiving being confronted by reporters about a third player arrest in the past three weeks.
Middle linebacker Erin Henderson, who missed three practices and last Sunday's game at Green Bay because of what Frazier called "personal reasons," was arrested Nov. 19 on probable cause for DWI and possession of a controlled substance in Eden Prairie, Minn.
No criminal charges have been filed against Henderson, who is the younger brother of E.J. Henderson, a free agent after nine seasons with the Vikings. Both played at Aberdeen High and Maryland.
News of the arrest broke Wednesday morning, two days after the team released cornerback A.J. Jefferson hours after his arrest on a domestic assault complaint that became a felony assault by strangulation charge.
Receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested and received two charges for DWI two weeks ago. Minnesota plays the Bears (6-5) at Mall of America Field on Sunday. The Vikings play at the Ravens on Dec. 8.
Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman, who typically only talks to reporters once at midseason, issued a statement that read:
"The fact that we have had three recent off field situations is unacceptable and disappointing. Our organization looks at each situation and the circumstances involved to determine our actions with those players and how to best move forward.
"The Vikings have a comprehensive approach with our player development program and excellent resources that are a part of this organization, but certainly we will take a methodical look at how we can improve upon our current programs to prevent these situations in the future."
Frazier reiterated that Henderson missed Sunday's tie at Green Bay because of "personal reasons," adding that it wasn't punishment for his arrest. Henderson later apologized, saying, "I'm sorry if I brought any embarrassment to this team or this organization. I didn't want to be a distraction."
Henderson then talked in vague terms about a personal issue and how he's taking steps to change his life.
"I have been given the tools and the resources by the organization and the sources to help me along and further myself in this process and continue to become the person that I know I can be going forward," he said. "It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be something that I needed in the long run.
"It's something I think will help me progress and become the person I'm capable of being and the man that I want to be. It was a tough situation having to sit at home and watch your teammates and watch your guys go out there to battle."
Henderson might have a hard time getting back on the field, regardless of his off-the-field issues. His replacement, Audie Cole, a second-year player who had been cut to make room for a third offensive tackle in the Washington game just 16 days earlier, responded with a Vikings' season-high 18 tackles, three quarterback pressures and a sack in his NFL starting debut at Green Bay.
Frazier said Cole had "earned the right" to start again on Sunday against the Bears. When asked if Henderson would be switched back to weak-side linebacker, the spot where he started before this season, Frazier said no, that Henderson would now back up Cole.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun