Linebacker Anthony Barr returned to practice last week while recovering from inflammation in his surgically repaired knee but hasn’t played in a preseason game this year. That is expected to change Saturday night against the Oakland Raiders.
“He’s feeling good right now. We should get him some reps this week,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “… We’ll get him some plays this week.”
Running back Adrian Peterson isn’t expected to get any playing time in the preseason, but he is at least making his way back onto the practice field. On Monday, Peterson went through individual drills. On Tuesday, he was at the morning walk-through, but wasn’t at the start of the full afternoon practice. However, he showed up midway through practice and participated on a limited basis.
Peterson took a helmet to the thigh last Tuesday and didn’t finish practice then. He didn’t practice at all last Wednesday and Thursday, so his return to the practice field on a limited basis is further evidence that there is little reason for concern.
While Peterson won’t play on Saturday and likely will be held out the remainder of the preseason – standard practice for him the last four preseasons – Barr’s return should be a boost for a first-team defense that already had been playing well in the first two preseason games.
Barr was one of the Vikings’ top defensive players last year as rookie. Despite missing the final four games of the year with a knee that required arthroscopic surgery, he still finished third on the team with 99 tackles, was fifth with four sacks and sixth with 13 quarterback hurries.
His strong suit is applying pressure on the quarterback and he spent time at training camp working occasionally with the defensive ends to improve his technique there. But his presence makes the Vikings better in their defensive starters and more versatile with their depth behind him at linebacker, with Gerald Hodges and rookie Eric Kendricks, both of whom are battling for the middle linebacker spot.
“He’s active and productive,” Zimmer said of Kendricks. “I like a lot of the things about him. I like his enthusiasm, his effort, he’s got great speed. He made a heck of a play covering the back man-to-man out of the backfield one time, made a tackle. Yeah, I like him and I like the way he’s going. We’ll find some jobs for him to do.”
Yet, Zimmer said the Vikings aren’t close to settling on a starter at the middle linebacker spot.
“We still have got a lot of time to go before we have to decide,” he said.
TUESDAY PRACTICE NOTES
“My dad was very, very proud of me,” Zimmer said. “I know that; he has told me that many times. I think my brother said at the funeral yesterday, one of the lines was that he never bragged about himself, but if the air conditioner repairman was there, within one minute, he was telling him, ‘My son is the head coach of the Vikings.’”