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Greenway, Vikings Start Laying Foundation for 2016



Nearly complete U.S. Bank Stadium is well past the foundation-laying stage.

The same isn't the case, however, for the team that will call it home for the first time in 2016.

Members of the Vikings returned to Winter Park Monday for the beginning of the voluntary offseason workout program. The nine-week program advances through phases and culminates with a mandatory mini-camp in June, about a month before U.S. Bank Stadium's scheduled completion.

As veteran linebacker Chad Greenway set in motion his 11th pro season in Minnesota, the Vikings have a blend of continuity that has been enhanced with **free agent additions**.

"This is kind of the first time in a few years that we've had this much continuity coming back throughout the team," Greenway said. "Now you really see [General Manager Rick Spielman's and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski's] approach to free agency was really more about how we could make positions stronger and competitions greater.

"I think they've brought in guys that are going to fit in with our locker room," Greenway added. "As one of our veteran leaders, that's part of my job, to make sure when guys come in that they're fitting in and kind of towing the line, as far as the mentality we have in the locker room, and not only in the offseason program, but going into training camp and throughout."

The Vikings re-signed most of their players that were scheduled to become free agents and brought in veterans Alex Boone and Andre Smith on the offensive line, linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis and safety Michael Griffin when the market opened (click **here** for a roster refresher).

"Competition is what makes the NFL so great at every position. We brought in some more great players at my position and other positions as well," Greenway told reporters Sunday night at the Minnesota Football Honors Awards Dinner. "You don't go into your 11th season without somebody trying to take your job. Emmanuel is a great player. I know he's a good kid, and he's going to fit into our room.

"Regardless of how things shake out, we're all going to have our own roles and the roles are going to be pushed toward helping our team win football games," Greenway added. "It's not about small things. Yes, they are important individually, but it's taking away from the end result that we want to win a Super Bowl. That's the mentality that every position has to have."

For the fourth consecutive year the Vikings recognized the 2015 winners of the Minnesota Football Honors on Sunday.

The Vikings also were welcomed Monday by a new head strength and conditioning coach, Brent Salazar.

Greenway and teammates talked about the value of the hard work that occurs this time of year to reap a greater reward in the fall. Last season, the Vikings went 11-5 to surprise some pundits and live up to the expectations of others.

Now, Minnesota has the opportunity to claim back-to-back division titles for the first time since 2008-09.

"The first week is great because you come back and get to be around all the guys again. You get to be around your coaches and back to the basics of football, get your mind out of the offseason gutter and back into what you do for a living," Greenway said. "You kind of start forging that bond heading into training camp, and that's where you become that team, and then you kind of forge ahead from there. A team is really built on experiencing things together."

Adam Thielen said the Vikings are ready to improve on last season's progress, but know that gains are made through daily commitments to themselves and each other.

"We're ready to improve on that and get going," Thielen said. "It doesn't just happen overnight. It takes these days [that started Monday] and taking them one day at a time. I think everyone will be excited."

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