Starting outside linebacker Anthony Barr is active for today’s game against the Rams. That is encouraging news for the Vikings, who ruled out middle linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on Friday.
Barr missed practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a lower back injury suffered against the Bears but was able to get in a limited session Friday.
The 5-2 Vikings might not have been able to afford being without their top two linebackers against Todd Gurley and the 4-3 Rams. The rookie back, who is drawing comparisons to Vikings star Adrian Peterson, has rushed for 566 yards and three touchdowns the past four games, three of them wins.
With Kendricks out with injured ribs, Audie Cole will start in the middle and veteran Chad Greenway will likely replace him in the nickel package.
Tom Johnson, meanwhile, makes his third straight start in place of Floyd.
Also inactive are tight end Chase Ford, linemen Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles, quarterback Taylor Heinicke and defensive end Justin Trattou.
Rookie receiver Stefon Diggs will start despite a hamstring injury. Fellow starters Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen and T.J. Clemmings are also active.
Rhett Ellison, the team’s best blocking tight end, returns to lineup after sitting out last week’s 23-20 victory over the Bears with a concussion.
The Rams scratched defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, safety T.J. McDonald, offensive linemen Rob Havenstein and Garrett Reynolds, defensive tackle Doug Worthington and quarterback Sean Mannion.
Here is some pregame reading to keep you busy until today’s noon kickoff:
— The Vikings continue to build their offensive line mostly with late-round picks and castaways. This season, that formula has not been working.
— Columnist Jim Souhan believes the Vikings have been lucky. He says today’s game against the Rams is a chance to prove that they are good, too.
— I think this game will be another close one, but I predict the Vikings will win a battle between teams with similar smash-mouth philosophies.