Hutchinson, Henderson aren’t often heard

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) âÄî The appointed leaders of this yearâÄôs Minnesota Vikings team likely wonâÄôt be leading inspirational speeches in the locker room before games. Heck, they even have a hard time sustaining a conversation with each other. Valuing work ethic and reliability over rah-rah, Vikings players voted left guard Steve Hutchinson and middle linebacker E.J. Henderson as their offensive and defensive captains for 2008. Kicker Ryan Longwell earned the honor for special teams. âÄúA lot of it is by example,âÄù said coach Brad Childress, who picked captains each week in previous seasons. âÄúThereâÄôs the E.F. Hutton way, too, where people lean in and listen when you talk.âÄù Longwell, who has not missed a field goal shorter than 45 yards in two years with Minnesota, is a gregarious guy but lacks the rank to stoke his teammates considering his role. HutchinsonâÄôs grunt work on the offensive line earned him a first team All-Pro selection last season, his second with the Vikings, and the fifth trip of his career to the Pro Bowl. Henderson has risen in recent years to one of the leagueâÄôs best at his position, and the team touted him as worthy of the invitation to Hawaii. âÄúAll those guys are quiet leaders,âÄù safety Darren Sharper said. Just ask them. Henderson carries a stone-faced, brooding expression that can look like disinterest. He sure flies around on the field, though. He also started every game in the last two years since returning to his natural spot in the middle, after struggling there in 2004. âÄúAs long as youâÄôre getting it done on whatever level you play at, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays … everything else will work out,âÄù Henderson said after ThursdayâÄôs practice. âÄúYou could be a deaf mute outside the white lines, but once you get inside the white lines I think thatâÄôs what your teammates judge you on and thatâÄôs what your opponents judge you on. In this sport, in our profession, thatâÄôs what counts.âÄù Hutchinson is more talkative, but sarcastic and sometimes grumpy and preoccupied when approached by reporters. He hasnâÄôt missed a snap since recovering from a broken leg that cut short his 2002 season, however, and his blocking ability has allowed him to become the richest guard in the game. âÄúYou could probably ask a lot of guys IâÄôve played against around the league, too: I donâÄôt really say much during a game,âÄù Hutchinson said. âÄúI just try to go out there and lead by example, I guess. âÄúJust shut up and play to the best of your ability.âÄù As one of a handful of 30-somethings on the team, Hutchinson has taken it upon himself to look after the less experienced when the situation calls for that âÄî even though heâÄôs not frequently flapping those gums and lips. âÄúAs you get older youâÄôre expected to take the part of the leadership role where youâÄôre talking to young guys if they have problems on the field,âÄù Hutchinson said. âÄúGrowing up you usually get cussed at by your coaches. Coaches yell at the guys and my job is to try to make sure they donâÄôt fall off reservation, so to speak.âÄù