Greenway not eyeing finish line; 'I can run with anybody out there'
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Linebacker Chad Greenway is at an interesting checkpoint in his career with the Minnesota Vikings.
He's at an age, 31, where most players are pushed into retirement. He's on a team that just brought in a new head coach and defensive scheme. And he's coming off a season in which he missed more tackles than any 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Of course, Greenway's broken wrist factored into those missed tackles -- which he acknowledged on Friday -- and his 1,158 snaps of playing time, tops on the team, placed him at the crime scenes of blown fourth quarter leads even though he wasn't necessarily always directly responsible.
But all of this adds up to a question Greenway faced from multiple angles after his first official camp practice under Mike Zimmer on Friday: How long do you plan on playing?
"I feel really good," Greenway said. "Physically I feel good. I came in great condition, and I'm ready to go. I'm never going to put a cap on it. ... It's harder to leave the family every year coming to camp, but I can run with anybody out there. I'm not concerned about that.
"I've had those talks with my wife and family, and my children never want me to stop because they love coming to games. So they don't quite understand. But I have a lot of fun, I love (playing).
"That's probably an easier question for Rick (Spielman) to answer than me."
If it seems like Greenway is bouncing the ball into general manager Spielman's court, perhaps he is. This past offseason, Spielman nudged Greenway to reduce his salary by $1 million. In exchange, the Vikings guaranteed Greenway's entire $5.5 million salary for 2014, but the subtext reads something like, "If you take this pay cut, we won't cut you. But if you don't..."
Greenway is under contract for a $7 million base salary next season, according to OverTheCap.com, and he can earn up to $8.8 million when bonuses are included. But the Vikings can save $7.1 million if they cut Greenway after this upcoming year. If the front office came to him with a salary haircut in mind at age 31, they're likely to do it again when he's on the verge of turning 32.
So, while this isn't officially Greenway's last season with the Vikings, it's a key checkpoint, and Greenway knows it.
"I don't feel like I can work (any) harder," he said. "I just feel like I consistently come out here with the approach to work as hard as I can like I've always done, and then get into games and be as prepared as I can be... You can only work so hard. You work and work and work, and sometimes that can't be the answer. It's about going out on the field and producing when you're out there."