Broken rib threatens Viking Greenway’s games streak
By Andy GrederSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Chad Greenway's consecutive games played streak reached 115 games Sunday, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the linebacker's broken left hand should have curtailed the iron-man run before the 2...
By Andy Greder
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Chad Greenway’s consecutive games played streak reached 115 games Sunday, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the linebacker’s broken left hand should have curtailed the iron-man run before the 20-9 loss to New Orleans.
Greenway suffered a broken left hand in Week 2 and it was heavily protected when he broke a rib against the Saints at the Superdome. He was limited to 57 of 72 defensive snaps and was taken out in the fourth quarter.
“He had a hard game (Sunday),” Zimmer said. “It’s my fault. He didn’t practice all week, and then we weren’t sure and thought he could go. So that was my mistake. He probably shouldn’t have went last week.”
Can Greenway play through the pain and extend the streak to 116?
“Not like he did (Sunday),” Zimmer said.
Greenway was the Vikings’ worst-rated defender, according to Pro Football Focus. If Greenway can’t go against Atlanta on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium, Zimmer isn’t saying who will assume the duties of relaying defensive schemes to the players.
“We’ve already worked on that last week, so we’ll hold that between us for right now,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings’ depth chart shows Mike Mauti and Brandon Watts behind Greenway at weak-side linebacker. Greenway also remains on the field in nickel defenses.
Mauti (foot) was active Sunday for the first time this season, while Watts (ankle) was out.
“You never plan on having this many injuries as you have, but we’re not going to make excuses about it,” Zimmer said.
“Our expectation level is the guy that comes in has to come in and perform like he’s supposed to. So, our expectation level doesn’t change because of injuries.”
Although Greenway struggled, Anthony Barr and Gerald Hodges played well at times.
Barr played 70 plays and registered his first NFL sack with pressure up the middle in the second quarter.
“I was fortunate enough to make a play,” Barr said. “There was a lot of pressure and he kind of just fell into my lap a little bit, so I’ll take it.”
Barr, a rookie from UCLA, said his progression has been in bits and pieces.
“It’s coming along, but I got a long ways to go,” he said.
Barr wanted one pass coverage back. On third and 5 with the Saints threatening in the red zone, Barr allowed Pierre Thomas to get past him for a 13-yard reception. Thomas punched in a touchdown run from a yard out on the next play.
“Other than that, I think my coverage was fine,” Barr said. “It’s more alignment stuff than anything. ... It’s just keeping my feet on that and try to make a play on the ball.”
Barr had a quarterback hurry, a pass breakup and quarterback hit, Pro Football Focus said.
Hodges was a run stuffer on multiple occasions, including stops in the fourth quarter.
Hodges played only 19 snaps, but he had the highest grade of any Vikings defender, according to PFF.
“He got most of the reps in practice this week, so he did some good things,” Zimmer said. “We got to continue to get him going. He’s got a lot of athletic ability. I need to make sure he stays on his Ps and Qs as far as being disciplined and doing the right thing every play.”
The Saints converted about 70 percent on third down and quarterback Drew Brees passed for 293 yards.
“I think we’re average,” Zimmer said. “Defensively, we’re pretty much average all day. So, (the linebackers are) no different from any other group.”
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