Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat said the toughest defender he ever faced was Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.
“He’s the toughest pass rusher that I went against,” Peat said. “… Just his athleticism, his get-off. He’s just a really good player.”
Barr had a very good rookie season before it was cut short by a knee injury. He missed the final four games, but still managed 99 tackles, four sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was just the third rookie linebacker in team history to start 10 consecutive games, was second in team history for most sacks by a Vikings rookie and fifth in franchise history for most tackles by a rookie.
GOLDMAN STUDIED THE BESTFlorida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman said he wore No. 81 because of Vikings Hall of Fame defensive lineman Carl Eller.
“My seventh-grade year, I played offensive tackle. My eighth-grade year, that’s when I started playing D-tackle,” Goldman said. “My dad would take me and basically school me on defensive tackles before my time. The reason I wore 81 my freshman year in college was because of Carl Eller of the Purple People Eaters, the Minnesota Vikings. Then I changed it to 90 because of Tony Brackens and Jay Ratliff. He would just school me on a whole bunch of guys.”
Goldman said descriptions of him being one of the top run stuffers in the draft are “accurate” and credits his study of the best in the history of the game for that skill.
In addition to Eller, he studied Ndamukong Suh, Lee Roy Selmon, Merlin Olsen and Mean Joe Greene.
Goldman is considered a five-star draft prospect by Scout.com, meaning a first-round value, and the No. 3 defensive tackle in the rankings.
LEARNING FROM ADVERSITYNotre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza counts Vikings kicker Blair Walsh among his close friends and admires him the most of any kicker.
“Just how he went through his senior year at Georgia, I kind of went through the same struggles,” Brindza said. “He’s been able to coach me through everything and help me. Everyone is there for a reason, and they’re all great. On and off the field, there’s a reason they’re there.”
Before coming to the Vikings as a sixth-round draft choice in 2012, Walsh was solid in his sophomore and junior years at Georgia, hitting on a combined 40 of 45 field goal attempts. But it fell apart in his senior season, when he connected on only 21 of 35 kicks.
Brindza hit a similar senior speed bump that threw him off track. After connecting on about 75 percent of his 57 field goal attempts over a two-year span at Notre Dame, he hit on only 14 of 24 kicks (58.3 percent) in 2014.
“I’m not going to put it behind me just because I learned so much. As Blair Walsh has told me, you learn from your past. Learn from what you did your senior year and never do it again,” Brindza said. “I always take it as a 10-second analysis. Analyze your stuff for 10 seconds if you missed a field, understand what you did wrong, and don’t do it again. That’s how I’m going about it. I’m moving away from it, but still keeping it in the back of my head, understanding what makes a missed kick.”
Brindza met Walsh when Brindza was just starting at Notre Dame. They worked with the same kicking coach in Naples, Fla.
Brindza also had another challenge to overcome earlier in life. He was born with a clubbed foot, but after “six or seven” surgeries, he said you wouldn’t even notice anything is wrong anymore.
“Growing up with clubbed foot, I was always oblivious to it. I was another kid out there and my dream and aspiration was to play in the NFL or play professional soccer. I never looked back on it,” he said. “I knew if something wrong happens, figure out a way to make it better. Better yourself every day because one day that door will come knocking down.”