What is a linebacker many would ask? It is second line of defense on the defensive unit. They are overseers of the field. The unit can see easily if it going to be a run or a pass and where the offense is going with the ball.
The Viking had their up and down with the linebacking corps last season. They had two key injuries last season. The first one was to Heath Farwell in the first preseason game and the other to EJ Henderson early in the season. Both were lost for the season.
50 Erin Henderson LB 6-3 244 Maryland
51 Ben Leber LB 6-3 244 Kansas State
52 Chad Greenway LB 6-2 242 Iowa
54 Jasper Brinkley LB 6-1 252 South Carolina
55 Kenny Onatolu LB 6-2 225 Nebraska-Omaha
*56 E.J. Henderson LB 6-1 245 Maryland
58 David Herron LB 6-1 239 Michigan State
*59 Heath Farwell LB 6-0 235 San Diego St.
BOLD is starter last season
Denotes finished season on injured reserve
Why were these two players so important to Viking at the linebacker position? Heath Farwell was the captain of the special teams unit and the Vikes did not have a identity all year. The unit looked like a bunch of chicken with their head chopped off running around back there at times last season.
During EJ Henderson absence the Viking struggled to find a replacement for middle linebacker. Chilly and company tried a variety of players and even brought in two former Vikes. The unit was stretched thin last season.
EJ Henderson was lost early in the season last year as well. He has been coming into his own as the Viking starting middle linebacker. He has great intuition for sniffing out the play and of course punishing the ball carrier when he runs in his zone.He is an exciting to watch as the general on the defense.He will knock some heads and hit the running back so hard that he make him see double. I already have EJ as the starting Middle Linebacker for Week 1.
As the Weakside Linebacker the Vikes have Chad Greenway out of the University of Iowa. He is entering his 3 year as a Pro. He missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL. He led the Vikings last season with 150 tackles and 3rd on the team with 5.5 sacks. Greenway has the speed and ability to chase down a running back in the flats or drop back into coverage with a wide receiver. Greenway has been progressing each of the last 2 seasons with the Vikings. It easy to say the he will have his starting role on the weakside at the beginning of this season.
On the strongside linebacker is Ben Leber. He does not make the bone crushing hits that many fans like to see from a linebacker from the NFC North. Leber is a smart player, he is a decent coverage backerHe is a reliable linebacker and can sniff out the play is tough to keep out of the pocket on a blitz. I just cannot see him losing his starting job. The other players that I see making the season are:
For the Vikings they have a quite the unit in the middle they will punish the ball carrier if they get past the 1st line of defense.