Chad Greenway is returning to Minnesota State University, Mankato for his 10th Verizon Vikings Training Camp. The 32-year-old Greenway will be part of 20 percent of all 50 camps that have been held in Mankato. He'll be joined by a group that is still relatively young, with no other player older than 26 at the onset of camp.
Total going to camp: 11
Total on 2014 opening day roster: 7 (none on the practice squad)
Average age: 25.3
Most experienced: Chad Greenway — 32 years old; going into 10th season with 123 starts in 124 games played
Rookies: 3 (Draft picks Eric Kendricks and Edmond Robinson; free agent Brian Peters)
Position coaches: Adam Zimmer
Backer bouncing back
Greenway saw his consecutive games streak snapped at 115 early last season because of broken ribs. That injury cost him three games, and a knee injury sidelined him for the finale, but he still finished second on the team with a coaches tally of 115 total tackles. The two-time Pro Bowler, and six other returning players should benefit with a second year in this defensive system.
Deuce from UCLA
For a second straight year, the Vikings opted to use a high draft pick on a UCLA linebacker, tabbing Eric Kendricks in the second round a year after selecting Anthony Barr with the ninth overall pick of 2014. Kendricks and Barr were back-to-back winners of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, and Kendricks became the school's first winner of the Butkus Award last season when Barr was impressive in starting the first 12 games of the season before suffering a knee injury.
Manning the middle?
The Vikings enter camp with a potential camp battle* *at middle linebacker to see who will replace Jasper Brinkley. Kendricks took snaps there during the Vikings offseason program, and so did fourth-year pro Audie Cole, who made the most of an opportunity to start in the 2014 finale at the weakside linebacker spot normally manned by Greenway.
Gerald Hodges, with seven starts in 25 games, is the third-most experience returning Viking behind Greenway and Cole. Hodges started seven of the 14 games he played in 2014 and returned an interception of Geno Smith 27 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against the Jets to tie a franchise record for fastest score in team history. Michael Mauti is back for a third pro season, and Josh Kaddu, who spent most of his first season in Minnesota on the practice squad, is entering his fourth year in the NFL. Brandon Watts, a seventh-rounder in 2014, is back for his second season in Minnesota.
View some of the best images of the Vikings linebackers from the offseason program.
The Vikings signed Casey Matthews after his fourth season in Philadelphia where he appeared in all 64 games, as well as Brian Peters, who is listed as a rookie in terms of NFL calculations but has played professionally in the CFL with Saskatchewan and in the AFL with Iowa. Matthews was on the mend this offseason, but Peters showed he can run well and could add depth on defense and help with special teams. Edmond Robinson, who was selected in the final round this year, rounds out the group.
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