Maple Leaf Magic … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

As a kid, Cory Greenwood was like any other youngster in his little corner of the world.

He was constantly engaged in some sort of activity; a whirling dervish like any young boy, bumps, scrapes and bruises galore.

Like all the mighty mites in Canada, it started with hockey. Putting on the skates, wearing the gloves, grabbing the stick, hitting the ice … it was all he thought about.

“It was fun, out there mucking around with the puck and banging the boards,” Greenwood said with a smile. “I put the skates when I was about five years old and played for like the next 10 years.” Eventually, he would rise in the ranks of amateur hockey in Canada, high enough that had he devoted his time to the ice, he may have made a career for himself in professional hockey.

But when Greenwood was in the eighth grade, he discovered football. There were pads and helmets, but no more sticks and no more boards. Just the wide open spaces of a Canadian football field. Something about it felt right for him. “There was more of a mental aspect of the game than in hockey,” he said. “There were game plans and preparation. There’s only one game a week and that allows you to do a lot of training. I really liked that.”

There were no dreams of football taking him anywhere. He followed the action in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League, but he did not have a favored team or player.

This week Cory Greenwood is standing in the locker room of an NFL team. That fact is sometimes beyond his comprehension.

“I never thought about it, never dreamed it,” Greenwood said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

There are a lot of amazing stories in NFL locker rooms this week as the 32 teams sliced their rosters to 53 players and they get ready to play the first week of the regular-season schedule. There are hundreds of rookies who are about to etch their names in NFL history by participating in their first game.

The toughest road traveled by those young faces belongs to the college free agents. Undrafted by the league, they begin each summer at the bottom of the roster, with so many bodies and players ahead of them in the race to make it to the regular-season opener.

But Greenwood’s trip to the Chiefs roster takes the prize. It’s one thing to come out of a Division I or even Division II college program without being a draft choice. It’s an entirely different and higher level of difficulty when a guy comes out of Canadian college football, which is somewhere around Division II quality.

He was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, a city of about 150,000 that is midway between Montreal and Toronto. It sits on the east end of Lake Ontario, where the lake waters rolls into the St. Lawrence River. The town was originally established as Fort Cataraqui in 1673.

The second child of Peter and Lana Greenwood, Cory James was busy with hockey until the football bug bit in that eighth grade year. But it was only in his final year at Regiopolis Notre Dame High School in Kingston that football became more than just a passion. It became his ticket to the future.

“I used football to go onto college and get an education,” said Greenwood. “It saw it as my ticket to the future. I got my degree. I knew professional football was a possibility, but I didn’t really think about the NFL. I was considering the CFL. I figured I could play in the CFL for a number of years, make some contacts and then figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”

At Concordia University in Montreal, the Stingers played in eight games each season. The weather wasn’t always the best and the facilities sometimes were lacking. Travel to road games was a school bus and the pre-game meal was a stop at Wendy’s.

The Grand Canyon would have been less of a jump than Greenwood trying to leap from Concordia Stingers to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I just thought of myself as an underdog,” said Greenwood. “I just figured I had nothing to lose.”

How Greenwood came to become part of the Chiefs is another good story. Several NFL teams knew about the Concordia linebacker. He won the President’s Trophy as the best college defensive player in Canada. In his senior year with the Stingers, he played in eight games, had 62 total tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss. Several NFL teams were in contact, including the Chiefs.

But nothing really happened with the NFL until May 2nd. That was the day of the Canadian Football League Draft and Greenwood was the third player selected, going to the Toronto Argonauts, who traded back into the top of the round to select him.

In the days after the Argos drafted him, Greenwood’s phone started ringing with calls from NFL teams. “There was always some interest from (NFL) teams, but I guess my stock rose a bit when I got drafted,” said Greenwood.

The Chiefs were in touch before the CFL Draft, and they were in touch afterwards. They flew him to Kansas City for a workout and signed him on May 18th.

From his first day on the practice field in an OTA sessions, Greenwood flashed his athletic abilities. At 6-2, 232 pounds, he runs the 40-yard dash somewhere between 4.5 and 4.6 seconds. He’s done 23 reps on the bench press, lifting 225 pounds that many times. He has a 36-inch vertical leap.

Greenwood can run, he is quick and he is willing to throw is body around. His work in that area on the special teams is what punched his ticket to the NFL.

“There’s no doubt about that,” said Greenwood. “I knew that I was going to have to get something done on special teams. I was prepared for that.”

Like the moment in the first quarter of the game against the Packers, where Greenwood almost blocked the Green Bay punt. He then picked himself off the ground and ran across the field and threw a big block that allowed Javier Arenas to crack a 44-yard punt return. “I was trying to find the most dangerous man to block,” Greenwood said. “So I found the long snapper.”

Even before that play, his performances in the kicking game caught the eye of the coaches, including Todd Haley who said in the days before the final roster cut that it was going to be hard to dispatch Greenwood.

“This LB Cory Greenwood for instance, a little bit of an unknown guy who all of a sudden has made us take notice because he continues to run down on special teams and make plays,” Haley said. “So all of a sudden if that’s something he’s got a chance to be real good for us at that, then you’ve got to start talking about how do we get him on the team? Then if he’s on the team we know we’re not going to carry 14 specialists, we’re going to have to put guys on the team that can do both or at least backup both. He’s in the mix.”

Greenwood understands what it’s going to take to keep him in the mix – the thrill of surviving this week’s cut is over. Now, it’s about surviving tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that. He was one of six Canadian college players that went to training camps in the NFL. He’s the only one who survived through the final cut.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing since I got here,” said Greenwood. “I got here late and missed the rookie camp. I had to make up a lot of ground, so I just stuck my nose in the playbook and worked on the mental and physical end as hard as I could.

“I kept doing that in training camp and the last few weeks. I’m going to keep doing that. I’ve got to come out here and work hard every day and prove that they made a good choice.”

CATCHING UP ON A FEW TIDBITS FROM THE CHIEFS

WR Quinten Lawrence is back: the sixth-round draft choice from 2009 has been on and off the roster and practice squad a few times in a little more than a year with the team.

He was signed back to the practice squad on Tuesday. To make room for him NT Garrett Brown was released. I would bet he doesn’t go far and we’ll probably see him on the developmental team again before too long.

An update on WR Jerheme Urban, who was a surprise addition to the injured-reserve list over last weekend: Urban spoke to his hometown newspaper in Texas and we find out that he tore a tendon in the ring finger on his right hand. Surgery was scheduled for this week and it’s anywhere from 10 weeks to three months of recovery and rehab time. Thus, came his ticket to the IR list, ending his chance of playing this season. Here’s the story.

Only one former Chiefs player jumps off the waiver wire: With the exception of those players signed by the Chiefs to their practice squad, only one other player they released has found a home. Rookie C/G Lemuel Jeanpierre was signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

  • BRONCOS – signed DT Kevin Vickerson, last with the Seahawks; released DL Le Kevin Smith.
  • BROWNS – signed CB Derrick Roberson; claimed C Steve Vallos off waivers from the Seahawks; released OL Billy Yates and ILB David Veikune.
  • CHARGERS – released CB Brandon Hughes.
  • JETS – released WR Patrick Turner.
  • RAMS – released Keenan Burton.
  • SEAHAWKS – released DT Craig Terrill.

4 Responses to “Maple Leaf Magic … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 8, 2010  - Josh says:

    Excellent story once again, Bob. Will we see CG in defensive packages this year, or will he remain a blessing on social teams?


  • September 8, 2010  - Michael says:

    Bob, any chance they bring back Tank Tyler? He was cut from Carolina.


  • September 8, 2010  - John says:

    I don’t see them bringing Tank back. The fact that we traded him away, he got injured last year and then released this year. Just wouldn’t make sense…especially with the acquisition of Toribio. Even if that doesn’t pan out, I see them signing Brown or Lokey back before Tank.


  • September 8, 2010  - lyle says:

    Keeping Greenwood was very smart. I was afraid that they would try to slip him on the practice squad. They would have lost him for sure. This kid looks like he has a ton of potential for the future.




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