Chad Greenway found himself in an unfamiliar place Sunday, watching from the sidelines as his teammates took on the Atlanta Falcons. With a short week coming as the Vikings prepare for the Packers in Green Bay Thursday, it’s looking more likely that Greenway won’t be on the field again.
It would be one thing if Greenway was trying to deal with one injury. But he’s dealing with two.
Playing with a broken bone in his left hand, Greenway also has a broken rib that he is dealing with and the bigger question for the 2014 season is that a rib injury only heals with relative inactivity.
With only two days of practice and, for many, likely only one day at full participation, it’s difficult to gauge how much better Greenway is now than he was a week ago while his teammates were getting ready to take on the Falcons.
As the vested veteran of the Vikings defense, Greenway has been pushing himself to try to come back, but, as a vested veteran, he has sustained enough injuries that, if he pushes too hard, his body will push back … in a bad way.
Asked Monday if he feels he’s closer to returning than he was last week, Greenway admitted it’s difficult to make any kind of prognosis when the recovery time is so limited.
“It’s hard to measure without doing too much,” Greenway said. “Obviously, you just take it hour by hour and see how it feels.”
Before Sunday, Greenway was the active linebacker leader in the NFL with 90 straight starts. Now his streak of missed games could be extended to two.
For someone who has football in his blood, missing time at a stage in his career where he has to impress a new coaching staff with what he brings to the table, watching from the sidelines was difficult, even when he teammates were winning – more by offense than defense.
“It’s pretty tough,” Greenway said. “It was tough to have to sit there and not help out, be part of the win. Obviously, I’m so excited for the guys to get the win. You just don’t feel like you’re a part of it. But hopefully when I get back, that win will pay off to put us in the right spot.”
Greenway was replaced Sunday by Gerald Hodges. The veteran was impressed with how Hodges and fellow defensive newbie Anthony Barr did in handling the defense. Greenway had been the “green dot” player on the defense – the player who has the communication device in his helmet and calls the defense.
On Sunday, that job went to Barr, and Hodges was taking Greenway’s spot in the defense. His loss impacted two positions, which can often be difficult – much like an injury on the offensive line forcing a guard to move to tackle and a new guard coming in and compromising two positions.
But Greenway felt the replacements did more than hold their own in their new and expanded roles.
“I think the biggest thing is the communication and getting guys lined up,” Greenway said. “With the noise and a lot of moving parts on the defense, and Anthony did a great job too, (it was about) communicating. Those guys, for the inexperience that they have, they played great. If Gerald continues to play, he’s going to keep getting better and better as he gets a little more comfortable. You win and you move on to the next one. Obviously this is a quick turnaround, easier to forget the bad plays and forget the good ones too and just move on.”
Greenway’s timetable to return is still very much in question. He is hoping it will be Thursday against Green Bay. Had the game been next Sunday, perhaps the outcome would be different.
The big-picture thinkers behind the scenes will likely rationalize that, if rested Thursday, Greenway will be much closer to 100 percent the following week when the Vikings return home against Detroit.
There’s no question Greenway wants to play, but caution with a broken rib may be the better choice. Greenway may be convinced to allow the long-term to outweigh the short-term – even if it means sitting out the Green Bay game.
“I think it’s probably just time (needed to heal),” Greenway said. “(That’s) the biggest thing. The hand was pretty manageable, but the ribs are pretty tough to do what I needed to do on the field. I tried for a couple weeks.”
Will the layout of the schedule and the crucial interruption of the weekly routine coaches so enjoy cost Greenway another game? Asked if he thought he had a better chance to play the next game if it was on Sunday rather than Thursday, Greenway’s response, while completely logical, may be a bit cryptic of what’s to come on Thursday.
“Time is the best healer, so that would definitely help,” Greenway said.
As the Vikings hit the practice field today, Barr will still have the green dot on his helmet.
Next man up … again.
On short week, Greenway unlikely to play
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