Mike Zimmer and John Sullivan returned to practice for the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, but linebacker Anthony Barr remains sidelined.
Zimmer returned after leaving camp on Monday to be with his ailing father, Bill, and Sullivan left Monday, too, to attend the birth of his first child, John Harris Sullivan.
Barr started to get back into the practice mix during minicamp after recovering from a different injury. He started training camp with conditioning work only but worked his way back on the field after a few days.
However, earlier this week Barr returned to the sidelines with inflammation in his left knee, the one he injured last year and ended his season four games early.
“He’s frustrated. But our plan is to continually get him ready and have him be ready for Sept. 14,” Zimmer said, referring the regular-season opener against San Francisco.
“It’s frustrating on his part and our part – both. But it’s legitimate. It’s not like it’s not a legitimate concern. We anticipate that he’ll be back here pretty quick.”
Zimmer said he would keep the timeline for Barr’s return “open-ended” and said the linebacker is doing work in the pool to keep up his physical conditioning and going through walk-throughs to make sure he stays mentality in-tune with the defense.
But Barr was an important part of the defense last year, as he was used in many different ways – coverage, stopping the run and what appears to be his biggest asset, rushing the passer.
“The good thing is he’s been very smart and he’s going through all the walk-throughs so he’s getting all that stuff. What he’s not getting is the full speed and the contact that the rest of the guys are getting now,” Zimmer said. “He’s not making mistakes. He doesn’t make any mistakes. I’m really not that concerned about it. We get him healthy and I think everything will be good.”
The Vikings appear to have gotten some good news on the injury front, however. Starting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was participating in Thursday’s practices after walking off the field following an apparent minor injury at Tuesday night’s practice.
“He seems to be OK,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said.