The most pressing issue facing the Vikings is what they’re going to do at the linebacker position, but it’s still a long way to Week 1 of the regular season. The only certainty is that Chad Greenway is expected to take his place at strongside linebacker.
Yet, as free agent signing rumors and potential position shifts exist, the Vikings started their mandatory minicamp with Greenway on the sidelines. For a lot of organizations, that could be seen as a hindrance for Greenway being ready when the hitting begins and the shorts are replaced with pads.
A year ago, Adrian Peterson, less than six months removed from major knee reconstruction, was turning heads running up a hill at full speed (against Percy Harvin no less), but nobody thought he would go on to do what he accomplished. Rehab took a big step up in the Vikings locker room.
Fortunately, Greenway’s knee procedure, performed last week, isn’t nearly as significant or career-threatening as Peterson’s knee-shredding was in late 2011 on the turf of FedEx Field in suburban Washington D.C.
Greenway’s surgery is viewed as preemptive – bud-nipping, if you will, on the advice of Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman. While he is sidelined for this week’s minicamp, Greenway wants to be ready for when the plays mean a little bit more than they do on the June practice fields of Winter Park. And, as the company line goes following surgery, so far, so good.
“It feels good. It feels great,” Greenway said. “Six days out (from surgery) and I’m plugging along, getting better. Rehabbing with Suge and the boys. Things are good.”
The procedure was a medical precaution after Greenway’s OTA workouts resulted in a couple of “pops and clicks” in his left knee. He reported the issue. The result was to strengthen the levy in preparation for the storms to come during what the Vikings hope will be January football.
“It was minor and just something that needed to be done,” Greenway said. “If I risked going into the season, then you (could) miss training camp, miss games and that’s not something we wanted to do.
Erring on the side of caution is something Greenway was willing to do for the good of the team. There isn’t any competition for his starting job, so, as he sees it, the risk of crossing fingers and hoping there wouldn’t be a recurrence of the injury simply wasn’t worth it.
“I don’t want to be that guy in training camp or Week 1 saying, ‘I got to miss two,’” Greenway said. “That’s not my mentality. I’d rather miss these practices in order to get ready for the season. I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Like Peterson a year ago, Greenway is having restrictions applied to his preparation for the 2013 season. If someone wants to win a bar bet, don’t expect to see Greenway on the field in the preseason any more than necessary. The Vikings want him fresh in December and January. June and July don’t factor in. For his part, Greenway is taking medical recommendations and moving forward as such. He’s ready to test his rehab to the extent he’s allowed. But, given his history – his rookie season ended in the first quarter of his first preseason game when he was on special teams coverage – he’s listening to the advice of Sugarman and team surgeon Joel Boyd.
“From the knee perspective, it will be 100 percent good to go,” Greenway said. “The organization has done a great job – dealing with the medical staff right away in ’06 – of really protecting the guys and doing the right things. So when they thought it was the right thing to do, I agreed and said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and I completely trust in what they had to say. Obviously, it’s a big credit to Dr. Boyd and Mr. Sugarman.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.