The Minnesota Vikings defense is starting at square one this year. The Vikings are learning an entirely new defensive system from first year head coach Mike Zimmer.
It has even some of the most experienced NFL and team veterans spending a lot of time studying the new schemes Zimmer is preparing the players for.
After seven years as the strong side linebacker, Chad Greenway has spent the majority of time prepping to move to the weak side. He also took a few snaps from Jasper Brinkley, in the middle, with the first team.
"This is a first chance for me to learn something completely new," Greenway said, while speaking to reporters after practice. "I go through the same growing pains as the younger guys as far as learning the new stuff, sometimes it's even harder for me because I have things so engrained over the years."
Greenway was selected to two Pro Bowls, while playing under the old system, but after a defensive collapse in 2013 a change was necessary.
"I probably haven't studied this much football in six or seven years, it's been a long time," Greenway said. "I am always carrying the iPad and notebook and trying to learn and ask as many questions as possible."
According to 1500 ESPN, the Vikings were at or near the bottom of nearly every statistical category. Greenway himself didn't play up to his standards and he dealt with a fractured wrist for much of the season.
Zimmer told reporters he thinks Greenway will fit in fine with the new system. He is looking for versatility from his linebackers.
"When you go into a game with six linebackers, if something happens you have to be ready to go," Zimmer told reporters. "For all of our guys, the more things you can do, the more valuable you are, especially on game day."
While the position will change, the responsibilities for Greenway will remain pretty similar in Zimmer's more aggressive defense.
That more aggressive style will hopefully create more turnovers.
Vikings safety Kurt Coleman said the defense will be predicated on the front seven controlling the line of scrimmage and establishing themselves, while those in the secondary will have to make some plays.
"We've got to create some turnovers, that's something we have to be able to do. With what I've seen from what coach Zimmer has done with defenses, this team is going to be an aggressive, hard style and we're going to create some turnovers."
In Zimmer's most recent stop as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator the Bengals climbed to No.3 in 2013 and intercepted 20 passes. Since 2011, they ranked No. 2 in the NFL with 139 sacks (46.3 per season) and ranked No. 4 by allowing just 18.8 points per game.