EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. With his left leg wrapped in a sleeve, Chad Greenway stood along the sidelines and watched his teammates go full speed at Minnesota Vikings' mini-camp Tuesday afternoon.
Greenway, 30, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week because "something wasn't quite right." The procedure won't keep him from training camp in July, and Greenway didn't enjoy standing on the sidelines, either. Wednesday, to no avail, he tried to show Minnesota coaches he was ready to compete. That anecdote, along with talent and work ethic, is one of many reasons why Greenway has elevated his play from merely good to elite among the NFL's outside linebackers.
"Chad is an unbelievable worker, a student of the ball game," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "He pays attention to detail.
"One thing Chad can do, if he makes a mistake in a ball game, in a practice, he can correct it himself without the coach having to correct it for him. That's the mark of a true veteran when they can correct themselves."
Greenway, a former Iowa All-American, is in his eighth season with Minnesota and was selected to his second straight Pro Bowl after last season. He finished second in the NFL in tackles and was named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, the first Vikings linebacker with that honor since Matt Blair in 1980. This offseason, Greenway peers voted him the 70th-best player in the NFL.
"It's a goal of every player in the NFL, a goal of mine, that was to make the Pro Bowl and All-Pro," Greenway said. "Both definitely were a dream come true. Obviously you want to have team success; that's really where your bread is buttered. That's what we're headed for, which is to try to get to the Super Bowl and win that thing. It's nice to have to the success of individual accolades. But we do this for a reason, and that's to get the ring and that's what we're shooting for."
Greenway has built a standout career with the Vikings, who selected him in the 2006 draft's first round. He's led the Vikings in tackles for five straight seasons, one shy of tying the club record. He was named the team's defensive MVP in both 2010 and 2012. He notched a career-high 191 tackles last year.
"Coming out here, I obviously watched Chad up close and he's definitely a true linebacker," said Vikings defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who previously played for Detroit and Seattle. "He's vocal, respectable, he plays hard and he doesn't make mistakes. With all that, his character and his charisma, it's easy to follow a guy like that.
Greenway said consistency and respect of his peers while in pursuit of an NFL championship is his defining goal.
"Really my biggest thing that I try to strive for is to have the respect of my teammates and the organization in general and just doing it with work ethic and being here, being a part of the organization, as big of a part as I can," Greenway said. "Just keep trying to strive to be the best and hopefully I can do that for many years."