Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Mike Zimmer wants 90 Greenways and versatility at linebacker

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Vikings, Chad Greenway Updated: May 29, 2014 - 5:22 PM

Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole lined up as the linebackers with the first team on Thursday, but it is still way too early to get an indication of who will line up where in Week 1.

For starters, top pick Anthony Barr was not present because UCLA is still in session -- it must be tough for a big man on campus to hang around that campus this time of year -- and he won’t be back on the practice fields at Winter Park until next month’s mandatory minicamp. While head coach Mike Zimmer hasn’t anointed Barr as one starter, that is certainly the early expectation.

Second, the one practice per week or two that media members are allowed to watch is just one snapshot of what the Vikings are up to, and it’s certainly possible that someone such as Gerald Hodges or Michael Mauti has been getting a crack running with the first-team defense, too. After all, Zimmer said Thursday that there is no depth chart now as the coaching staff evaluates the roster.

Plus, meaningful reps in training camp and snaps in the preseason will play a larger role.

Still, one linebackery thing seems clear, and that is that Zimmer has a lot of respect for Greenway, who told reporters he is studying football now more than he ever has.

“That’s good, I like that, I do. It’s important to him,” Zimmer said. “That’s why he has been a good player for a long, long time, because it’s important to him. If we had 90 of those kind of guys we would really be good. I do think our guys are studying a lot and hopefully we are keeping them accountable about knowing what they’re supposed to do all of the time. Yeah, it makes me feel good.”

I don’t know if the Vikings would have their answer at quarterback with 90 Greenways on the roster, but you get the point: Zimmer values the leadership and professionalism Greenway brings.

It will be interesting to see what Zimmer decides to do with Greenway over the next three months. He spent most of Thursday’s practice at one of the outside linebacker spots, but he also got snaps at MIKE linebacker and could ultimately end up filling that void in the middle.

Regardless, Zimmer said that the versatility (or lack thereof) of his linebackers will be a factor as the coaching staff tries to sort out a crowded group and determine who makes the team.

“When you go to the game with six linebackers, you know, something happens they have to be ready to go,” Zimmer said when asked specifically about Greenway’s versatility. “Part of the deal with all of our guys is we are trying to give them a lot of different things to do. I’ve always felt like the more things that you can do the more valuable you are, especially on game day.”

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NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 11
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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