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Just 4 Days before Week 1 at CIN, Barr and Darrisaw at Practice

Just 4 Days before Week 1 at CIN, Barr and Darrisaw at Practice


Jul 30, 2021; Eagan, MN, United States; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) participates in drills at training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings lost Irv Smith Jr. to a meniscus tear about a week and a half ago, causing the upstart tight end to miss all of 2021. He was supposed to break out in his third season, but those plans will just have to pause for one season.


After that, the Vikings are dealing with several minor [normal] injuries and a couple of eyebrow-raisers. The minor stuff pertains to Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Alexander Mattison. Nobody really considered those three would miss the start of the season, and all indications are that each man will play Sunday at the Cincinnati Bengals. Nevertheless, throughout folks’ fantasy football drafts last weekend, Thielen, Jefferson, and Mattison wore a gaudy red Q next to their injury statuses.

The other two injuries are more concerning. Linebacker Anthony Barr is battling a mysterious knee injury while rookie left tackle had surgery on his core muscle in August. Because the Vikings mucked up the public relations campaign on Danielle Hunter’s injury last summer, some Minnesota fans cynically believe that Barr and Darrisaw will miss this season. The logic for that feeling is a bit off-kilter, but that’s what happens when a franchise tends to exert heartbreaks on its fans – they expect the worst.

Well, optimistic news hit the digital stratosphere Wednesday afternoon on Barr and Darrisaw.

The takeaway line – perfect attendance. It’s exactly what an onlooker hopes to read on the Wednesday before a Week 1 football game.


That certainly doesn’t mandate that Barr and Darrisaw will actually play. But a “Barr and Darrisaw were not present” headline would be the expectation of doomsday thinkers. We ain’t there yet.

Barr missed 14.5 games in 2020, tearing his pectoral muscle at Indianapolis in Week 2. That game marked one of the lousiest Vikings efforts of the Mike Zimmer era.  Barr restructured his contract during the offseason, effectively remaining with the team one more year. He’ll be a free agent in March if general manager Rick Spielman doesn’t lock Barr up beforehand. On Darrisaw, he tumbled to the Vikings at the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Many mock drafts characterized the Viriginia Tech alumnus as a Top 15 pick. But, nope. He fell to Minnesota after Spielman traded his 14th pick to the New York Jets for, what turned out to be, Darrisaw, Kellen Mond, and Wyatt Davis. The additions of Darrisaw and Davis should be the final pieces to the Vikings offensive line construction. In the last four drafts, Spielman laid the framework of Brian O’Neill, Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Darrisaw. It may take some time (hopefully weeks, not years), but the Vikings indeed – finally – have an astute offensive line plan. Of course, however, an injury lingering for Darrisaw would skewer this plan, forcing head coach Mike Zimmer to rely on a career backup in Rashod Hill.

Specifically for the Week 1 opponent, the Vikings probably don’t need Barr and Darrisaw to topple the Bengals. Cincinnati isn’t a bad football team, but most experts perceive the Bengals as a franchise at the back of the pack for 2021. Their offensive and defensive lines are suspect. That’ll do it.

Filling in for Barr should he miss the game? Blake Lynch and Ryan Connelly, young defenders that are new to the organization in the last two years. Those two aren’t long-term solutions – unless one rapidly blossoms – so Barr will be needed for Week 2 and beyond. Minnesota faces Arizona, Seattle, and Cleveland after the Week 1 contest.

We know how good Barr is. Our knowledge is the opposite for Darrisaw. He might start his rookie year like a madman, devouring everything in his path. Or – he might struggle. The only hindrance of his absence at the moment is delayed development.


The two are practicing now, though. And that bodes well for everyone except the Bengals.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).