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Updated: October 1st, 2012 5:47pm
Notebook: Chad Greenway expecting fine for hit on Calvin Johnson

Notebook: Chad Greenway expecting fine for hit on Calvin Johnson

by Judd Zulgad
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chad Greenway figures the NFL will be sending him a FedEx package on Wednesday. The Minnesota Vikings linebacker won't be too excited to open it.

Greenway likely will get a hefty fine for the shoulder-to-helmet hit he put on Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Sunday in the fourth quarter of the Vikings' 20-13 victory at Ford Field.

"I guess we'll find out how much," Greenway said Monday.

On the play, a Matthew Stafford pass sailed over Johnson's head but Greenway couldn't pull up in time and put a hit on the defenseless wide receiver. That resulted in a 15-yard penalty and is the type of hit the NFL is trying to eliminate.

Johnson had to be helped off the field and Greenway immediately grabbed his helmet, an indication he knew the hit wasn't legal. He also apologized to Johnson, who was able to return to the game after he passed a concussion test on the sideline.

"Obviously, I didn't mean any intent to hurt him or anything," Greenway said. "I was just trying to play the game. Once I saw he was in a vulnerable position, I tried to pull off a little late. I'm glad he wasn't hurt and I hope he's good."

Greenway said that with Johnson being such a good receiver that he felt he needed he had to get up in the air and defend the pass. When Greenway realized Johnson did not catch the ball, he attempted to pull up but "wasn't quite fast enough."

Greenway then pulled his hands back because he thought that would indicate he wasn't trying to follow through with the tackle.

"It made it look like I was really guilty, which is fine," he said. "I was guilty, I hit him. I was trying to (show) that I didn't finish the hit, I tried to pull off. (It's) just something about being a defensive player in the NFL right now. That's what it's going to be. So you've got to expect it."

Asked about the hit and whether he thought it was dirty, Johnson told reporters: "That's football, baby."

Positive impact

The Vikings offense might not have generated a touchdown Sunday but Frazier was pleased with the debut of wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who caught four passes for 50 yards and drew two pass interference penalties.

Simpson, playing in his first game for the Vikings after sitting out the first three of the season because of an NFL suspension, was interfered with by Lions cornerback Bill Bentley in the first quarter on a play that gave the Vikings a 31-yard gain. That drive ended with Blair Walsh connecting on a 49-yard field goal.

In the second quarter, Bentley again was called for interference against Simpson on what turned into a 26-yard penalty. Walsh ended that drive with a 27-yard field goal.

Simpson's biggest reception occurred late in the fourth quarter when he made a nice 27-yard catch on a second-and-11 play from the Vikings 19-yard line.

"Those P.I penalties, to give us the field position they gave us, the threat that he gives us vertically, that catch he made late in the fourth quarter, that's a big-time catch," Frazier said. "Great throw by Christian, but that was pretty good coverage by that defensive back. To make the play on the ball the way he did, we need that. Very, very impressed with some of the things he did in the short time we've had him."

While Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was held to a season-low 111 yards passing, Frazier did not seem concerned. Ponder is now the NFL's only starting quarterback without an interception.

"A lot of it had to do with what they were doing defensively and how they were defending our offense," Frazier said. " ... Maybe midway through the third and late in the fourth (quarters), we had a different approach from an offensive standpoint.

"I think we'll be fine in the passing game. I saw some things. We all saw some things that we think will help us going forward, but we can also anticipate teams trying to defend us similarly to what Detroit did. So, we'll have to adjust a little bit."

Still starters

Frazier said that strong safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) and weakside linebacker Erin Henderson (concussion) will remain the starters, despite the fact their replacements have done a good job.

Jamarca Sanford made several big plays in place of Raymond on Sunday, and Marvin Mitchell has played in the past two games in place of Henderson.

"Hopefully we'll get Erin back here real soon and we'll get him going again," Frazier said. "With Mistral, a few more weeks. But when they're able to play, we'll plug them right back in."

Frazier said that Henderson still has yet to pass all the necessary tests to return from a concussion.

While Henderson won't lose his starting job, he could be seeing far fewer snaps when he does return. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley has taken Henderson's spot in the nickel defense and has played well enough to warrant being left on the field when only two linebackers remain in the game.

"Jasper's played pretty good," Frazier said. "He did a good job (Sunday) against a high-powered passing offense. So, we'll have to take a real hard look at where he is in the passing game and where Erin would be when he comes back. We'll talk about it when Erin gets back."

Peterson's progress

Running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries Sunday, the first 100-yard rushing performance he has had since returning in the opening week from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

"He looked more like the Adrian of old than at any point in this young season," Frazier said. "He had some runs that showed the strength, the power, the elusiveness that we've seen in the past. It was just great to see. There was no hitch anywhere. He looked good."

Peterson got much of his yardage running between the tackles. Frazier said that was a product of the game plan and not anything that Peterson decided to do on his own.

Taking a break

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who was acquired just before the regular season in a trade with Arizona, played in the nickel defense at times Sunday in place of rookie Josh Robinson.

Frazier said the change was necessary because Robinson was fatigued.

"We had to get A.J. in (because of that), but we did have some situations where we wanted A.J. in based on the personnel they had on the field," Frazier said. "Josh got a little fatigued and we wanted to make sure he was hydrated properly and we took him off the field for a little bit."

Further review needed

Robinson was assessed a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty when he slammed Lions receiver Nate Burleson to the ground in the second quarter after a 6-yard reception. Frazier said the Vikings would send video of that call into the league to get clarification on it.

"It just seemed like a tackle," Frazier said. "Now, it was a hard tackle, but it is football so we're going to get some clarification from the league. ... I've never seen anything written that we couldn't tackle a guy that way so I'm interested to see what the league has to say."

Clete Blakeman was the referee for Sunday's game, the first this season for the Vikings with the regular officials since the NFL's lockout of the referees ended last week.

Greenway was glad to see the regular guys back.

"It's never perfect and we're never going to be happy all the way," he said. "But I think it's just so nice to have the game run efficiently. (That) is probably the biggest thing. To not have these constant meetings trying to figure out what the rules are or whatever."

Quick hits

• Frazier said the Vikings came out of Sunday's game "pretty good injury wise." Wide receiver Michael Jenkins left the game in the first quarter because of a bruised rib but was able to return. Defensive end Jared Allen had leg cramps in the second half but is fine.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd