Hartman: Last-minute losses, wrist bother Greenway

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2013 - 10:49 AM

The linebacker and former Iowa star still leads the Vikings in tackles despite playing with an injury.

Chad Greenway, being the great competitor he is, is having a strong season at linebacker for the Vikings even though he is playing with a badly injured wrist.

“It has been better, every week I’ve been trying to just play through the pain,” said the former Iowa star and 2006 first-round draft choice. “But it has been something that I don’t want to give up on this team, and keep playing.”

Greenway, who signed a five-year contract in 2011 for $40.6 million ($20 million guaranteed), is scheduled to make $6.4 million in 2014 and $7 million for 2015. Neither of those final two years is guaranteed.

So the question is: Will the Vikings pay those amounts on the next two years of Greenway’s contract, or will they try to negotiate them down as they have done with cornerback Antoine Winfield and defensive tackle Kevin Williams in the past? Greenway still is ranked as the best linebacker on the Vikings roster. He has a commanding lead in team tackles with 113.

Greenway was asked how difficult it is to play when the Vikings have lost four games in the final moments by a total of 12 points.

“I think at this point it’s tough to be able to push forward, but the reality is you have to do it,” Greenway said. “It’s the way we do it, we get paid to play the game and to win. We have to continue to try and win these games.”

He was asked if those close losses are hard on players.

“It’s tough, that’s the NFL,” he said. “There’s parity. Every week is going to come down to the last two-minute drill, and we just haven’t won enough of them.”

As a member of the media, you aren’t supposed to have favorites. Well, I have to admit Greenway is not only a favorite of mine but a close personal friend I have known since his Iowa days. Nobody gives more of himself to charity than Greenway.

Taylor disappointed

After losing five of six games, the Wolves have come back to win big back-to-back games against Detroit and Philadelphia. Owner Glen Taylor said he wasn’t surprised at the team’s tough start because of their schedule, but when asked if he was disappointed, Taylor said just a little.

“Well, I would say the quick answer is a small yes, but let me answer it this way,” he said. “We knew this would be a very tough part of our schedule. We knew that from the very beginning. I think there are just games that have slipped by that we had an opportunity to win and for that reason — not only I, but I think the coaches and the players would feel the same way — that we let those games slip away when we had a chance to win them.”

Taylor said he isn’t expecting the Wolves to make any more trades after dealing 2011 first-round pick Derrick Williams to Sacramento. Williams has had back-to-back stellar games for the Kings, with 31 points and five rebounds Monday in a victory over Dallas and 13 points and seven rebounds Wednesday in a loss to Utah.

“I think at this point, we have two players that have been hurt that we expected to be in the rotation,” said Taylor, referring to injured forward Chase Budinger and center Ronny Turiaf. “Both of them will hopefully be back in December and that’s the main thing. We did do the trade with Derrick Williams because he wasn’t getting into the games, and we were able to bring in a fellow [Luc Mbah a Moute] that could play strong defense.”

What does Taylor think in hindsight about the drafting of Williams?

“It turned out to be a very bad deal,” Taylor said. “I had hopes that he would end up being a star player being drafted that high in the draft, but as it worked out he wasn’t getting into the games, and he wasn’t able to produce, and a player that is drafted that high, you have to pay a lot of money so you can’t just let him sit on the bench.

“This will give him a chance to show what he can do in Sacramento, and we think we have a player that we think can help us this year.”

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