Farwell Continues to Improve Stock

Weakside linebacker Heath Farwell has gone from an undrafted rookie last year and a continuous roster-bubble player to the team's preseason leader in tackles, and it isn't even close after his best performance yet against Dallas. See what the second-year player had to say about his play and how he fits into the roster.

Heath Farwell calls Chad Greenway a good friend, but it might have been Greenway's season-ending injury during the first preseason game that allowed Farwell to extend his professional career beyond his rookie year.

Both Greenway, a 2006 first-round draft pick, and Farwell, a 2005 undrafted free agent, play weakside linebacker, and the Vikings' crowd at depth, if not standout starters, at linebacker means there might not have been room for both of them on the 53-man roster. But since Greenway tore the ACL in his knee, Farwell finished the preseason as the team's top tackler and a strong insurance policy as a backup to starter E.J. Henderson.

"It's an unfortunate incident when a good buddy goes down, a teammate goes down. Really, it was he just went down, I was up and got thrown into the fire," Farwell said. "Luckily, I was prepared and ready to go and able to take advantage of my opportunity for some playing time."

Indeed, he did. Through three games in the preseason, Farwell wasn't just the leading tackler on the team, he had doubled up the next closest tackler on defense – rookies safety Greg Blue – with 22 tackles to Blue's 11.

"I played real well, but I made some mistakes I would like to correct. But, overall I was really happy with the way I played," Farwell said of his initial opportunities to play extended minutes with the defense.

Last year, Farwell didn't register any tackles on defense, but he was able to be a leader on special teams. Despite only playing in seven games, he had 13 tackles on special teams, including a career-high four in a wild game against the New York Giants.

Even though he had a very solid preseason as a linebacker, Farwell isn't about to shy away from special teams.

"Hopefully I'll be on all of them and I plan on doing that and hopefully get a chance at linebacker," he said. "As you know, I love the special teams and I kind of excel in that stuff, so that's a spot to get on the team and whatever else I can do to help the team win, I want to do it."

He won't open the season as a starter, but Farwell seems to have solidified his spot on the team with an amazing win in the tackles department. At the end of the preseason, he has 32 tackles. The next closest isn't even in his neighborhood after a 10-tackle performance Thursday night against Dallas.

"This defense is built for speed and I'm kind of a smaller, quick, speed linebacker," he said. "I wasn't a high draft pick or anything, so I've got to prove myself – just prove to the coaches that I could play at this level."

Consider that task completed.

After a nice showing as a rookie free agent last season, one in which he gained the approval of several Vikings alumni – including Hall of Famer Ron Yary – who occasionally stop by the press box, Farwell had to prove himself all over again to a new coaching staff. He said he doesn't think head coach Brad Childress knew much about him before a meeting they had after Childress was hired.

After four solid preseason games build around pure hustle, Childress should know plenty about Farwell now. And the 6-foot, 235-pound ball of energy is feeling more secure in his roster spot.

"When Chad went down, it was an opportunity for me to prove that I could play at this level. It proves that I can play and they don't have to bring anybody else in."

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