FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- This time a year ago, New York Jets linebacker Erin Henderson's NFL career could have been over, ironically after a 2013 season where he was one of the best middle linebackers in the league. He had missed the entire 2014 season following his second DUI in the span of two months and it looked like he was toxic, a multiple offender and just another supremely talented NFL player who wasn't going to pan out.
Now, he's on the Jets 53-man roster and heading towards a prominent role with his new team.
Henderson just turned 29-years old this past summer, now more than a year removed from his latest issues with substance abuse. He ran into problems earlier in his NFL career that resulted in a league suspension and now after sitting out a year due to his latest indiscretions, he's back and determined to make a go of it. His struggles and his continued work to better himself is well-documented but his latest triumph is a return of sorts to a player with so much promise.
Two years ago, his career was pointing up. It was the 2013 season where Henderson made a big splash in the league, then with the Minnesota Vikings, where he registered a career high in tackles, sacks and interceptions. Then it all went away in the blink of an eye, two offseason DUIs derailing a career that seemed to be skyrocketing.
So even just a little thing such as making the roster of a team that was 4-12 a season ago is a big deal for Henderson, who almost lost his career last offseason.
"It's going to be a great feeling, it's going to be exciting, especially when you wonder if you're ever going to have that chance. It's going to be great to be out there, especially when you had a taste of it in preseason," Henderson told Metro. "To go back out there, with the lights and everything, to get at it, especially with a great team like the Jets – a team that gave me this opportunity, that gave me this chance – who trusted me – man, I want to go out there and do this for the fans, do it for the team.
"You don't really find out until 4 P.M. when you realize they haven't called you in to tell you [of being cut]. So it's a little crazy. Especially when you're over here getting rehab and you see a lot of the staff here, walking around, wondering if they're going to come in here and grab you and tell you're not on the team."
After rehab, Henderson headed back to a nearby hotel where he is staying and took a long nap. He woke up after the deadline for team's to make roster announcements.
Checking his phone, he had no missed calls, no text messages alerting him to report to the facility with his playbook. But he wasn't sure so Henderson hopped online and did a quick search online to make sure he wasn't cut from the team.
He wasn't and he breathed a sigh of relief - "It felt good knowing that."
As for his recent knee injury suffered in the first game of preseason, Henderson said he is fine. On Monday, he did everything on the practice field and felt no limitations.
"Felt good out there, did everything today so that's good. "In my mind and I think the coaching staff, training staff, I'll be out there on Sunday."" Henderson said. "That's what I'm working for."