OAKLAND, Calif. – For the first time in his 10-year career, linebacker Chad Greenway was a full-time man in the middle Sunday. He technically didn’t get credited with the start at middle linebacker because the Vikings started the game in their nickel defense, but when they were in their base defense, Greenway manned that unfamiliar position.
With regular middle linebacker Eric Kendricks missing his second consecutive game because of injured ribs, Greenway slid inside for the 30-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. He tied for the team lead with eight tackles. But after the game he wasn’t slapping himself on the back for his performance.
“We’ll find out after we watch the tape,” Greenway said. “I’m sure I’ll have many things that I did erroneously. I tried super hard and just wanted to be good at it and give us some stability there with all the injuries that we’ve had.”
Kendricks was listed as doubtful on Friday’s final injury report, but he didn’t appear to be close to playing during early warmups. And his backup, Audie Cole, fractured an ankle in last weekend’s win over the St. Louis Rams and was lost for the season. Newcomer Jason Trusnik practiced at middle linebacker during the week, but he was not quite up to speed by Sunday.
So the Vikings turned to the trusty veteran against the Raiders. Second-year player Brandon Watts replaced Greenway at weakside linebacker in the base defense.
“I thought he stepped in and did very good,” Greenway said. “He had watched a ton of tape, he knew what the game plan was and he knew what to expect at the position he’s played in his first two years in the system. He’s comfortable there, so they moved me to keep him comfortable in his first start.”
After the game, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater spoke for the first time since suffering a concussion in the victory over the Rams. In that game, Bridgewater was shouldered in the head by Rams rookie cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who claimed the illegal hit was not intentional.
“Like Joyner said, we’ve known each other since high school,” Bridgewater said. “So I don’t think he had any bad intentions.”
Bridgewater said he wasn’t worried for his well-being against the Raiders, a week after he appeared to get knocked out against the Rams. He was hit seven times and sacked four times by the Raiders. He also scrambled twice for 23 yards.
“Last week was in the past. I can’t let one play, one hit determine how I play the next game,” said Bridgewater, who was cleared by an independent neurologist Friday evening. “I’m still going to continue to play the game the way I played it.”
Abetting the law
In the fourth quarter, a fan ran onto the field as the Vikings were preparing to kick off. But safety Antone Exum quickly brought him to the turf with an open-field tackle.
“We didn’t know what was going on at first, but then we realized it was a wild guy running around on the field,” Exum said. “So long story short, I felt threatened so I acted on it and I did a successful job taking him down and hopefully I kept everybody safe.”
After Exum tackled the man, the man was dragged off the field by security.
“It was really a great tackle,” Exum said with a laugh. “He tried to juke me. He slipped and I made the play. I really need to ask the league if that counts for my stats this week. … The way he was juking out the police, they weren’t going to bring him down.”
Ups and downs
Kicker Blair Walsh made his first two field-goal attempts Sunday to make it 17 successful kicks in a row, the longest field-goal streak of his career. But late in the second quarter, he was wide right from 53 yards, his first miss since Week 4.
“It was fun because you’re putting the ball through the uprights and that’s what your team needs you to do,” Walsh said of the streak.
Walsh also had a 39-yard attempt blocked in the fourth quarter.
“I pulled my head up and there was a guy in my face and he blocked it,” Walsh said. “I have no idea what happened. I’ll have to look at the film. I know I didn’t hit it low, but I don’t know what happened and how he got in there.”
Sharrif in town
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd returned to the field Sunday after missing the past three games following knee surgery. Tom Johnson still got his fourth consecutive start and Floyd didn’t get on the score sheet, but Floyd still thought it was a successful outing.
“It felt great [to play],” Floyd said. “Knocked off a little rust and that’s great.”
• Wide receiver and special teams standout Adam Thielen injured his left shoulder in the first quarter. He got it wrapped up by the athletic training staff and returned to action, nearly blocking a second-half punt.
• Vikings receivers Thielen (14 yards), Stefon Diggs (10 yards) and Cordarrelle Patterson (6 yards) had first-half carries.