Chad Greenway has been a solid linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings since he was drafted out of the University of Iowa eight years ago. He was a starter since day one and has yet to miss a regular season game since his rookie season when he tore a muscle in his leg. Now that longtime Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has retired and the NFL is looking for its next elite linebacker, Greenway should begin to enter the conversation.
Not only has Greenway been able to rack up tackles and be an enforcer in the run game, but he has also been asked to move to different sides of the field yet continues to impact the game. The past five years Greenway has led the Vikings in tackles, and on a team that has had a strong defensive line for years that is quite a feat for a run stopping linebacker.
Last year marked a possible career changing season as Greenway was named to his first ever All-Pro team and made his second straight visit to the Pro-Bowl, showing he is beginning to be recognized as one of the best linebackers in the league. In 2012 and at the age of 29-years old, Greenway totaled over 100 tackles for the fifth time in six seasons played, and in those five most recent years he totaled the second most tackles of any player in the NFL.
Greenway no doubt started his career late as he came out of Iowa as a 23-year old and missed his first season with the Vikings after tearing his ACL while playing special teams in the preseason opener, but he has since made the most of his time in the NFL and has proven to be the Vikings’ most reliable defender the past six years.
After just three preseason games and limited action this year it could already be argued that Greenway is looking to improve upon his successful 2012 season. In the team’s third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers Greenway came away with four tackles and one interception. Greenway looked to be recognizing plays early which allowed him to make an impact. If it is any indication as to how the regular season will be he could be in for a career year in 2013.
Looking forward it would appear as if Greenway will continue to be a Viking as the team likes to keep proven defenders around as evidenced by the famous “Williams Wall” when the Vikings used to be one of the best run stopping defenses in the league. So as long as Greenway stays in Minnesota he should be the most important player on a strong defense, and if he continues playing at the level he is at now there could be a possible trip to the Hall Of Fame in his long-term future as he will go down as one of the best linebackers in Vikings history.