Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway played a career-low 14 snaps on defense in the 26-16 victory over the Lions on Sunday.
“Sitting on the sidelines, [I thought] this really is a different perspective here, and it wasn’t a negative thing,” the 10-year veteran said Monday. “I’m trying to do my part to win football games. That’s the only thing I’m worried about.”
Greenway sat so often because the Vikings primarily used their nickel package — five defensive backs, two linebackers. “It was one of those deals where you know that going into the game I’m not going to be playing the sub-package,” he said.
Greenway’s role could continue to be limited, and he said he’s OK with that. When the Vikings restructured his contract in March to free up cap space, it was understood his playing time would be diminished, and that was apparent Sunday, when he assisted on two tackles.
He led the Vikings in tackles from 2008 to ’13 and was second to safety Robert Blanton last year.
“My role has been the same really since training camp started,” Greenway said. “It’s more about what the other team [is doing] from a personnel standpoint. When I signed to come back, I knew the role could be different than I’ve had in the past nine seasons.”
Greenway, 32, was a big part of the Vikings’ Week 1 scheme, taking 63 snaps in the season-opening loss at San Francisco. Coach Mike Zimmer said he probably should have gotten his veteran more playing time in Week 2.
“He’s handling it like a pro,” Zimmer said. “Some weeks they get more plays and some weeks they get less plays. … He’s a leader, he’s a captain and I think he’s enjoying his time.”
Young players around Greenway say they appreciate his leadership, whether it’s from the sidelines or on the field.
“An ultimate team player and leader of the team,” second-year linebacker Anthony Barr said. “He’s a guy I really look up to and a guy the rest of the guys in the locker room look up to. He knows his role, and he plays it well and he’s a great teammate.”
Zimmer liked the way his team played with a chip on its shoulder following the loss to the 49ers, but he would prefer it doesn’t take another ugly loss to keep the group motivated. He also said he has a plan to achieve that.
“It’s a good week to be demanding,” Zimmer said Monday. “I mentioned to them about what good teams do and how we do it. I’ll have a chip on my shoulder this week, too.”
Cornerback Jabari Price was activated from the suspended list Monday, ending his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Price was arrested last December for suspicion of drunken driving, and his charge was reduced to careless driving after a plea agreement in April.
“I’ve talked to Coach Zimmer already, and we both understand what needs to be done. There’s never a safe moment when you’re in the NFL,” Price said. “It hurts. I’ve never in my life had to sit out a game because of disciplinary action, and I never want to do that again. That will never happen again.”
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown Sunday, but Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes arguably won the battle against the All-Pro wide receiver.
Johnson only broke free for one big play against Rhodes, an 11-yard touchdown reception on the edge of the end zone, despite being targeted 17 times.
“We kind of figured they were going to target him a lot this game,” Rhodes said. “So we just had to cover him. That’s what you have to do, limit big plays not only on Calvin, but on offense, period. That’s always a goal of ours, to limit explosive plays.”
Rhodes had six tackles and one pass deflection.