For the first time since he was placed on injured reserve late last season, Anthony Barr pulled on a white jersey Tuesday, buckled up his helmet and joined his Vikings teammates for practice at Winter Park.
Barr was limited to individual work in his return to the practice field, but after he was sidelined for the past six months, being able to play football in any capacity was a welcome change for the 23-year-old outside linebacker.
“I did the first 30 minutes of practice — more than I have done obviously this entire offseason,” Barr said. “It felt good to be out there.”
Both Barr and coach Mike Zimmer have been mum about the nature of Barr’s current injury. But Zimmer has said it’s not the knee injury that ended Barr’s promising rookie season in late November after he recorded 70 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 12 starts.
Zimmer believes it is important that Barr is back on the field throughout this week’s minicamp.
“He’s got to get back to playing,” Zimmer said. “He hasn’t really done football in a long time. So it’s good for him to get back out here and start moving around and getting with the calls. I mean, I don’t anticipate any problems. I just think it’s good for his mind-set and good for ours as well.”
Robison still limited
Starting right tackle Phil Loadholt and defensive end Brian Robison continue to be held out of team drills due to pectoral injuries.
Loadholt, who tore a pectoral last November, is expected to be ready for training camp. But Robison, who suffered his injury in May, isn’t sure if he will be a full-go by camp.
“We’ll just see how it goes,” Robison said. “Obviously I got to be smart with it. But at the end of the day, I plan on being there, plan on getting back on the field as quick as possible. We’re just going to take it day by day and keep going as we’re going.”
Thompson adjusting to life as a guard
Tyrus Thompson is one of three collegiate offensive tackles the Vikings drafted this spring and shifted to guard, joining T.J. Clemmings and Austin Shepherd. He never played guard at Oklahoma.
“In the inside, those guys are right there on you already,” Thompson said. “The guys are faster on the outside, but you have a little bit more space when you’re kicking off the ball instead of being flatter to keep the pocket more shallow.”
Thompson must be adjusting at least fairly well. For the second consecutive practice dating to last week, he lined up with the first-team offense at right guard.
Pruitt starts strong
Fifth-round draft pick MyCole Pruitt has made a positive first impression on the coaching staff. On Tuesday, the rookie tight end joined Kyle Rudolph with the starting offense whenever the Vikings used two-tight-end sets.
Pruitt earned positive reviews from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, too.
“He’s an athlete, I can tell you that much. … He can catch passes out of the backfield, catch passes from the tight end position, he can block in the running game, he can line up at wide receiver,” Bridgewater said. “He can probably return punts and kickoffs also. He’s an exciting player to have.”
Inside job for Waynes
Despite fellow cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson sitting out Tuesday’s practice because of injuries, top pick Trae Waynes continued to run with the second unit and mostly manned the slot, something he rarely did at Michigan State.
Zimmer explained that the Vikings moved Waynes inside because they want to teach him multiple positions, figure out what he does best and go from there.
“It’s a new experience, but I’m here to learn and get better,” Waynes said. “It’s been good. I just need to get my head in the playbook and keep learning.”