Rookies Relieved to be on Time

With Tarvaris Jackson and Chad Greenway signed and delivered to Mankato, the last two rookies to sign say it was important to put team first.

Tarvaris Jackson has been training in Alabama and Chad Greenway in South Dakota. While the locales were far different, the attitude of the two players was as similar as the heat they were training in.

Physically, they were preparing for their first training camp. Mentally, they both wanted to be in camp and be part of the team.

If I get here late, it's not starting off right and I kind of want to start everything off right, start my career off right, so I thought it was very important to get here on time," said Jackson, the second-round pick who agreed to terms on a four-year contract Wednesday.

"You want a fair deal. but sometimes you might have to take off a couple of dollars just to get here on time. That's the most important thing. If everything works out, you'll get your money anyway so I just want to get here and get here on time and do my best."

Jackson isn't expected to see much playing time this year. In fact, it could be two years of playing behind Brad Johnson before Jackson really gets a chance to establish himself in the league, but that isn't the case with Greenway, the first-round pick who agreed to terms on a five-year contract late Thursday morning and headed down to Mankato shortly thereafter.

When he was drafted, Greenway said he didn't want to be a holdout, and he stuck with that message throughout the contract negotiation phase and even before hiring his agent, Marvin Demoff.

"He kind of knew what I wanted going into the whole process," Greenway said of hiring his agent. "When I was doing the agent process, I started off by saying, ‘I don't want to be a guy that's going to hold out of camp, and we're not going to be too proud as an agent or as a player to hold out. If that's what they're offering, that's what we're going to take.' That's kind of the approach I took when I was getting agents, and that's what Marvin stuck to, and he did a great job."

Now Greenway will begin the process of trying to land a starting job at weakside linebacker when he takes to the field for the first training camp practice for rookies and select veterans at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

While Greenway said he isn't concerned about starting right away, that process will be helped by a new defense for the Vikings that many are terming as simple. New defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin is installing the Tampa-2 defense he assisted with in Tampa Bay.

"Coach Tomlin says we have a small-menu defense and we're going to keep things simple and just do what we do and do it well. That's the way we did it at Iowa when I played there, so it's nice to have that, especially as a rookie coming in or especially when you're installing a defense," Greenway said. "It's nice to have that because you can just go out and play and kind of enjoy it, and that's what we're going to try to do."

While the rookies will try to enjoy their first training camp and forge relationships with teammates, it's far from an easy task they face over the next three weeks. Temperatures are predicted to rise into the mid-90s Friday and maybe even warmer by the weekend, but Jackson and Greenway both feel they prepared themselves well.

Jackson has been conditioning in Alabama.

"It's a little different up here with the wind. It's like 90-something probably here, but the wind is blowing so it's not going to be as hot as it is in Alabama," he said. "It's very humid down there. When I first got back home I almost passed out because I was so used to working out up here in 80 or 85 (degrees). I had to get used to it back home."

For Greenway, back home was in South Dakota on his parents' farm, where the sendoff wasn't typical of NFL players.

"It wasn't really much of a sendoff. It was 6 a.m. and 5 a.m. two days in a row loading pigs. Dad could really care less if I was going to camp or not. And actually I did a signing at my sister's convenience store in town, and that was it. That was the three days leading up to camp," Greenway said.

Pigs and heat. Maybe Greenway was looking forward to training camp.

"It was hot in South Dakota when I was running; I can tell you that much right now. It was hot over there. I think we were over 100 degrees for 13 days in a row or something," he said. "It was really hot; it was great training weather, and hopefully it will prepare me for this. I don't know if anything can prepare you for training camp, but that was the best way to do it."

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