Greenway was expected to take a reduced role last year, but injuries to Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks forced Greenway into more of a full-time role. He still was third among linebackers in snaps played, but he was more than just a base-defense player.
Emmanuel Lamur, who could eventually take over at weakside linebacker if Greenway does, indeed, retire after the 2016 season, says there are still parts of Greenway’s game he wants to emulate.
“He comes out here with a purpose and this is something that I’m gradually just stealing from him. Just coming out here with a purpose and just taking one day at a time and going really hard,” Lamur said. “The man is 33, but he busts his butt and that’s what I love about him. He’s a hard worker.”
Although Greenway had been in the NFL for nine years entering the 2015 season, linebackers coach Adam Zimmer said the work ethic showed as Greenway adapted to a new system. After one year in Mike Zimmer’s defense, Greenway understood what was being asked of him and worked to improve on the new techniques being taught.
“Chad really, in the second year of the system, he really improved with his block take-on, new stuff that we were teaching him when we got here,” Adam Zimmer said. “I think he’s feeling more comfortable in the system. You see it on game day. He might not be as fast as he once was, but he has a great feel for the game. He studies.”
Although he continues to bring a strong level of play to the field, Greenway adds a steadying mentorship ability with a generally young linebacker corps. At this stage, Barr and Kendricks may have more athleticism, but they can still learn plenty from a 10-year veteran.
“I think that’s invaluable and part of the reason we think he can contribute,” Adam Zimmer said.
“I wouldn’t say a major factor, but it’s a plus. I think Eric and Anthony will be fine no matter what, but to have that guy that they can lean on – he’s been through a lot, he played a lot of games and he’s seen a lot of stuff. It’s somebody they can talk to that’s not me or George (Stewart) or the head coach.”
Lamur said he didn’t let Greenway’s status with the Minnesota Vikings enter into his decision to sign with the team after four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he’s learning all about Greenway’s leadership qualities. That includes Greenway’s work on the field and off.
“One of the reasons why I came here is because of his leadership as well. There’s something I can learn from him. Good players, you’ve got to steal some things from him, of course,” Lamur said. “He’s a great guy off the field as well. I don’t think people give him enough credit for that, but he does a lot off the field and that’s something I salute. It’s not just about the game of football, it’s all about doing the things right every time – while you’re on the field and off the field and that’s something I’m just learning from him as a veteran, especially playing in the league for 10 or 11 years. Chad Greenway is a great leader.”