Vikings notes: Greenway short-changed in nickel ‘D’
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has played in 144 NFL games. Never has he broken as little of a sweat as he did Monday night.In a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium, the 11-year veteran was i...
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has played in 144 NFL games. Never has he broken as little of a sweat as he did Monday night.
In a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium, the 11-year veteran was in for a career-low two snaps. His previous low had been 14, set Sept. 20, 2015, against Detroit and tied two weeks ago against Green Bay.
Greenway doesn’t play in nickel situations in favor of cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Greenway didn’t start Monday, and Munnerlyn ended up playing 64 of the 66 defensive snaps.
“Chad’s pretty smart; he knows the game plan and things going into the game,’’ Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday. “He’s a team guy; he just wants to win. When he gets the opportunities, he’ll go in and play. It’s all a product of the game, really.’’
Greenway has been coming out in passing situations since last season. Never, though, in his three Minnesota seasons has Zimmer used the nickel defense as much as he did against the Giants.
“That’s just kind of the pro game now,’’ Zimmer said. “It’s just a whole bunch of nickel stuff. I thought Captain did a nice job in the slot. Obviously, the outside guys all did a good job. The two safeties (Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo) played well.’’
For a second straight game, Zimmer rotated his outside cornerbacks, although he declined to speculate whether he will do that again Sunday against Houston (3-1) at U.S. Bank Stadium. On Monday, starter Terence Newman was in for 56 plays, starter Xavier Rhodes for 45 and Trae Waynes for 31.
Boone’s big game
Zimmer said left guard Alex Boone, Minnesota’s most notable free-agent signee during the offseason, had a strong showing against the Giants.
“He was good in pass protection, physical in the run game,’’ Zimmer said. “It was his best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
Less encouraging has been the performance of left tackle T.J. Clemmings, who played his second straight game in relief of Matt Kalil, out for the season following hip surgery. Pro Football Focus ranks Clemmings as the worst tackle in the NFL out of 77 with a qualifying number of snaps.
On the right side, Zimmer didn’t have an update Tuesday on the status of tackle Andre Smith, lost for the game after six plays Monday with a right elbow injury. Replacing Smith was Jeremiah Sirles.
“He’s a battler,’’ Zimmer said. “He’s done a nice job.’’
After Boone was knocked out in the second quarter Sept. 25 at Carolina with a hip injury, Sirles replaced him the rest of the way and played well. Zimmer said there are no plans now, though, to insert Sirles into the starting lineup.
“Right now, we’re not planning on that, but we’ll see how it goes,’’ Zimmer said.
Walsh’s extra work
Minnesota’s players were off Tuesday, but not Blair Walsh.
A day after missing yet another attempt, the Vikings kicker came to practice at the Winter Park fieldhouse.
Walsh was wide left on a 46-yard field-goal attempt against the Giants. Coming off his 27-yard miss in the waning seconds of a 10-9 playoff loss to Seattle, Walsh this season is 8-for-11 on field goals and 6-for-8 on extra points.
Zimmer, though, said it hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s looking to bring kickers in to try out.
“No, not yet,’’ he said.
Zimmer hasn’t talked to Walsh about his latest miss, saying, “We correct it and move on.’’ He said after Monday’s game that missed kicks could prove costly if they continue.
“We need to make those or it’s going to bite us in the rear end,’’ Zimmer said. “Our team is going to be playing close games.’’
Stadium impresses Grant
Bud Grant says U.S. Bank Stadium is the best in the NFL.
That is, for now.
“It will be the best until they build another one,’’ the Hall of Fame ex-Vikings coach said before Monday’s game against the New York Giants at the $1.1 billion venue. “This will be the best one until the one in Los Angeles (that opens in 2019). The one in Dallas is pretty good, but I like ours better.’’
Grant, 89, blew the Gjallarhorn before the first regular-season game at the venue Sept. 18 against Green Bay. He was just a spectator Monday.
When Grant coached the Vikings from 1967-83 and in 1985, they played 15 of those 18 seasons outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium and three indoors at the Metrodome. He once was an advocate of playing outside, but no longer.
“It’s a different era,’’ Grant said. “The players are better, the money is different. I coached most of my career with the wind and the weather because that’s what we had. This is different. It’s an entertainment center.
“The Vikings will play (10 or more) games per season (at U.S. Bank Stadium), but then they’ve got like a hundred other events. They can have a rodeo one day and a car race the next, then a football game. At the soccer game (in August between Chelsea FC and AC Milan), they just rolled out the turf and they took it up and played football (later in the month).’’
Grant said his favorite part of the new stadium are the giant video screens at each end.
“The new scoreboards are crystal clear,” he said. “You can see everything. With modern technology, I can’t remember how bad things were growing up (in Superior). We never had television, we had a phone that worked half the time. Now, look at it, it’s unbelievable.”