MANKATO, Minn. – The star players are so recognizable on the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield, and the NFC's Pro Bowl team has featured several Vikings over the past couple of seasons. But none of those guys led the team in tackles the past two seasons. Quietly, that has been linebacker Chad Greenway.
"It's great for me to play in the shadows of great players," Greenway said. "We expect a lot out of ourselves."
In just a few days of training camp, Greenway has been noticeable. At the opening practice Friday, the offense was trying to get the tight end open across the middle during 7-on-7 drills, but twice, Greenway jumped the route and broke up the pass.
On Saturday, he made a nifty interception during a passing drill, then busted through the line to stuff Adrian Peterson in the backfield. He also put a big hit on Percy Harvin that caught the crowd's attention.
Sunday's big play came as he broke up a pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser during a goal-line drill.
"I'm just looking for improvement," he said. "In game situations, you can always have fewer breakdowns. We fell to the No. 2 defense last season, and we want to get back to No. 1. We have the talent to do that."
Greenway was a first-round draft pick in 2006, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve after a preseason knee injury. In the three seasons since, he's totaled 319 tackles, leading the team with 115 in 2008 and 99 in 2009.
Last season, Greenway had three games with 10 or more tackles, and he was the NFC defensive player of the week after intercepting two passes, recovering a fumble and recovering an onside kick against Detroit in September.
But the season ended with a disappointing loss in the NFC championship game.
"The stuff you do as a team you remember more than the stuff you do individually," he said.
Coach Brad Childress said he remembers when Greenway was a rookie. Before the first practice of training camp, Greenway was among the first players on the field, catching punts from Chris Kluwe.
"He's a guy who loves what he does," Childress said.
Notes: Childress said that Harvin missed Sunday's practice to deal with a death in the family. He's not sure if Harvin will leave camp. ... Center John Sullivan (foot) and cornerback Benny Sapp (cramps) both sat out practice, and Childress said he thought they'd be back in a couple of days.