MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings are about three weeks away from opening the 2021 regular season at Cincinnati, and it’s not yet known if one of their top defensive players will be available.
Linebacker Anthony Barr has not practiced in full with the team for more than two weeks. Last week, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Barr was "dealing with something." Barr has been spotted in the team’s weight room during several of the afternoon practices at TCO Performance Center, before coming out to the field to watch the end of practice.
The team has not disclosed what Barr is dealing with, and isn’t obligated to release an injury report until the week leading up to facing the Bengals.
"Today I can’t tell you if he’s going to be ready Week 1 or not. He’s doing everything he can rehab-wise to get back in there and hopefully we have him Week 1. If not, we’ll have somebody step in and play for us.," Co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said Tuesday.
Barr missed most of last season after suffering a torn pectoral Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts, trying to tackle running back Jonathan Taylor. Not having Barr to start the season would be a significant loss. He’s the signal-caller, and it would leave Eric Kendricks and Nick Vigil as the top two linebackers. Troy Dye, who returned an interception for a touchdown on Saturday, would likely see time at No. 3 linebacker.
Barr was among a group of players who did not practice Tuesday. That list also includes Christian Darrisaw, Tyler Conklin, Dru Samia, Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu.
WILL KIRK COUSINS PLAY IN FINAL PRESEASON GAME?
The Vikings end the preseason at the Kansas City Chiefs Friday night, and a majority of starters are not expected to play as the final exhibition game typically features back-up players batting for roster spots. But will Kirk Cousins play?
In Saturday’s 12-10 loss to the Colts, Cousins was 5-of-7 for 23 yards. For the second straight preseason game, the Vikings didn’t score an offensive touchdown. Their lone score came on a Troy Dye interception returned for a touchdown. Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said Tuesday the team is planning as if Cousins will play Friday. But what does he want to see out of his quarterback before Week 1?
"I don’t need to see anything, he’s practicing well. In a live game setting, it would be nice to push the ball down the field. I just want him to be a great decision-maker, I don’t want him to force anything," Kubiak said.
Chances are the offense will look a lot different and more explosive with Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen all on the field at the same time.
GREG JOSEPH BOUNCES BACK FROM FIRST MISS
After going 2-for-2 on field goals in the first preseason game, Greg Joseph missed his first attempt Saturday from 51 yards out. He bounced back in the second quarter, converting from 49 yards out to give the Vikings a 10-6 lead at the time.
The kicking competition hasn’t been talked about much in training camp, largely because Joseph is the lone kicker on the roster after the team released Riley Patterson. Special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken isn’t worried about Joseph.
"We know he can definitely make that. I know that he can, I know he knows he can, we expect him to make it and he will make those," Ficken said. "The great thing about him is he came back, bounced back and made a 49-yarder."
It was one piece of an improved day for special teams. Britton Colquitt averaged better than 45 yards on punts, and the Vikings had two kick returns for 63 yards.
The Vikings preseason concludes Friday night at Kansas City. Then, the roster has to be trimmed to a final 53 players before Week 1.