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Greenway getting feet wet at camp

MANKATO, Minn. -- Chad Greenway looked like he belonged. At Friday night's training camp scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, the rookie linebacker from Mount Vernon and his Minnesota Viki...

MANKATO, Minn. -- Chad Greenway looked like he belonged.

At Friday night's training camp scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, the rookie linebacker from Mount Vernon and his Minnesota Vikings played and looked like they had only been in camp for less than a week.

But at a scrimmage, it really doesn't matter what you look like anyway. Greenway, the 6-foot-2, 242-pound outside linebacker from Iowa, stuck his nose into the scrums, tipped a pass that he nearly intercepted and had his head turned around on a couple of plays where he looked like he was lost.

What else should be expected of a rookie in his first week of training camp?

After a light special teams workout Friday morning -- a unit that Greenway is expecting to be a big part of -- he talked about how camp has gone so far after signing his five-year contract on July 27 that reportedly could be worth around $13.25 million. The interview took place just hours before the start of the scrimmage against Kansas City.

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"This is my eighth day in camp -- and it's been a long eight days so far," Greenway told The Daily Republic, just moments after an interview with the one and only John Clayton of ESPN.com. "I've just been getting adjusted to everything. Things have changed a lot in eight days, but I'm still trying to fly around. It's been a good experience so far."

It has been a wild three months for Greenway. After getting drafted in late April, he got married to Jenni Capista this summer and then had to through contract negotiations with the Vikings leading up to camp.

The whirlwind grind of the past couple of weeks doesn't seem to have gotten to the 23-year-old.

"A lot of great things have been going on," he admitted. "It's exciting and fun. It's kind of nice to just get down to playing football again and focusing on that."

Greenway has been working at the weakside linebacker position and appeared to be behind veteran E.J. Henderson on the depth chart. However, Greenway got a lot of time on the field during the scrimmage, along with fellow South Dakotan and linebacker Ben Leber.

"I'm hoping to get a lot of reps in at that spot," Greenway said. "We have a lot of good linebackers this year, though, and it's going to be an exciting time. We should have one of the best line-backing corps in the NFL."

Leber, a native of Vermillion, is one of only three South Dakotans in the NFL now with Greenway and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (Rapid City).

Greenway and Leber are roommates at camp -- and according to Greenway -- Leber has been a big help thus far.

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"It's been nice to have him," Greenway admitted. "He's pushed me along and helped me out when I had questions about things. He's a great guy to have around. At night when we're looking at the playbook and I have questions, he answers them. He's been in a lot of situations before and he knows what's going on."

Leber has been impressed with the way Greenway has handled himself at camp.

"I think Chad's just like everybody else right now," Leber said. "We're all competing out there -- some good, some bad. We all have our areas of improvement. He's no different than anybody else. The one thing I'm noticing is that he's willing to work on those things, and it's not hard to work on weaknesses. He's shown to be a true competitor."

Greenway says he wants to get on the field as much as he can during his rookie season. To do that, being a part of special teams is a given. Greenway is known for his play at linebacker at Iowa, but he was on the field on special teams as well during his Hawkeyes' run from 2001-05.

"I think special teams will probably be a major role I take on early, especially since I'm trying to get my feet wet on defense," Greenway said. "That will be a role I'll probably take pretty seriously. That's something that will help me get my feet in the door on defense.

"I played special teams all through college, it's nothing new for me. I've been doing it for the last four years."

The Vikings drafted Greenway believing he'd be a good fit for new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin's Tampa-2 defense. He's quick enough to cover a wide receiver or running back that goes in motion and he's the athletic type of linebacker that every team in the NFL craves.

Expectations are one thing. Performing on the field is going to be the big key as to whether Greenway succeeds or not at the next level.

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"The coaches just want me to come to practice and try and get better every day," Greenway said. "They haven't really given me any of their expectations for me or anything like that.

"The speed and intensity of the game is different and it's something I'll have to get ready for. I'm a rookie and I won't be used to that."

The speed and intensity of Friday night's scrimmage was pretty laid back. But there was Greenway jumping around, having fun and looking like a kid who had arrived where he was always destined to be.

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Greenway said his family, wife and a couple of his former high school coaches were expected to attend Friday's scrimmage.

"My wife is going to be here and Coach (Eric) Denning's up here right now. He's a big Vikings fan. Some other people are coming up, too. It should be exciting."

Eric Denning, Mount Vernon's head boys' basketball coach and activities director, coached Greenway in basketball in high school. Greenway's high school football coach, Myron Steffen, was also expected to visit Greenway at camp.

"I think Coach Steffen might be here tonight. I haven't heard or talked to him, though. I'm guessing he'll be around. He's probably more worried about football practice starting up here in a couple of weeks, though," Greenway said, cracking a smile.

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