Barr finds working points after first action

Anthony Barr got his first action for the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, but he found some things he needs to improve.

Anthony Barr might be the Minnesota Vikings’ best defender, but he’s just getting back into action after missing the first two preseason games.

Barr started and played his first preseason game of 2015 on Saturday night after sitting out the first two with inflammation in his surgically repaired knee.

“He was OK, I thought. I think he knocked one ball down. I didn’t particularly watch him. We blitzed him once or twice to just kind of get his feet wet,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.

“He did alright for the first time out. He didn’t do anything real spectacular. He’s got to get back into the game tempo a little bit more. There was a couple times when he didn’t flash like he normally flashes, but it was the first time.”

Barr manned his usual strongside linebacker spot and played 14 snaps. He finished with one tackle and knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage that showed both athleticism and awareness of the situation.

“They had an overloaded formation. They brought the tackle to the other side and put the tight end on the short side,” Barr said. “We were checked for that so I came off the short side. I knew the ball was coming out quick because the back stepped up. It was one step and he looked right at the receiver and I caught his vision line and was there to make the play.”

Barr was most effective last year coming off the edge and pressuring quarterbacks with his explosiveness and athleticism. During training camp, there were times he worked with the defensive ends to improve his pass-rushing skills, which was already a strength of his game.

But his reliance on his quickness is key, especially with the knee problems he encountered.

“I felt good. It felt good to be out there. I feel like I still have some work to do, as far as just getting quicker and reaction time and stuff like that,” he said. “I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel fast – the best I’ve felt in a while.”

That’s good news for the Vikings defense, as Barr is one of their best players despite only being one year in the NFL. But having inflammation in the knee eight months after arthroscopic surgery could be a concern for some.

Not for him.

“Not really. It’s something that just happened. It flared up, it’s gone and now we’re just moving forward,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about it.

“I don’t know what exactly the cause of it was. It was just something that was uncomfortable for me and something I needed to work at. I feel great. That’s all I can say. I feel great.”

Zimmer concurred after watching Barr’s first action.

“I think physically he’s fine,” Zimmer said, “just the extra burst that you need to have during games.”

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