During the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, while he stayed in shape waiting for the right chance to sign with a team, Anthony Barr spent most weekends watching football from his couch. More often than not, he found himself tuning in to the Vikings.

Barr, the Vikings' top pick in 2014 who left as a free agent after the 2021 season, still had a pair of longtime teammates on the roster in Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith, and had spent time with starters like Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum and D.J. Wonnum at the end of his eight seasons in Minnesota. The frenetic style of defense his former teammates played under Brian Flores also caught his eye.

"They play very fast and aggressive, in a style I think kind of fits my abilities," Barr said. "A lot of familiar faces, from the top down, all throughout the organization. It's a reunion, I guess you could call it."

The four-time Pro Bowler returned to the Vikings this week, signing a practice squad deal with the team that drafted him ninth overall and brought him back to help fill a major need at linebacker. The Vikings placed Jordan Hicks on injured reserve Tuesday, after swelling in his right shin led to an operation on Sunday to alleviate risks of compartment syndrome in his leg. Rookie Ivan Pace Jr. will wear the headset to communicate Flores' play calls in the Vikings' defensive huddle, and the team will lean on veterans like Smith and Metellus, but Barr's experience made him a fit.

"His history and just the feelings towards the player and person from his time here as a great, great player made it pretty easy," coach Kevin O'Connell said. "Then, in addition to that, him talking to EK [Eric Kendricks], Harrison Smith, or Kirk [Cousins] or any of the guys he played with, I think he was excited to come back and be a part of it and we were really fired up to get him."

With Andre Carter II wearing Barr's old No. 55, Barr called Kendricks — his close friend from their time together at UCLA and Minnesota — and asked for his blessing to wear Kendricks' old No. 54. Kendricks, in his first season with the Chargers, said yes; Barr stood on the practice field talking to Smith in a purple 54 jersey at the beginning of the Vikings' practice on Wednesday.

He last played on Jan. 22, in the Cowboys' NFC divisional playoff loss to the 49ers, and said Wednesday, "I'm going to assume that I have some rust to shake off." He'll also have to learn a Vikings defense that's changed markedly from his time under Mike Zimmer, though some concepts in Flores' defense, like the double-A gap blitz Zimmer used with Barr and Kendricks, will feel familiar.

"We had a lot of success with that back in the day, and they're doing it at a high level now. So there's some carryover," Barr said. "There's the terminology, and some things here and there, but for the most part, football's football. They do a lot of unorthodox things here, which is something I have to adjust to. But I'm a smart player, and I think I can handle that transition."

Barr said he had some opportunities to sign with a team over the summer, but chose to wait for a team that felt like the right fit. He was a focal point of Zimmer's defense for eight years; he'll have to earn a role with a new set of coaches in Flores' system.

The Vikings presented a combination of intrigue and familiarity that stood out to Barr when they talked with his agent about a possible reunion this week. On Wednesday, even if he was returning in a different role than the one he held under Zimmer, he sounded happy to be back.

"It was a lot of time, man. I was getting pretty bored," he said. "There wasn't a whole lot going on, so it's good to be back in the locker room."