Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr will not play in Sunday’s season opener as he continues to recover from a lingering knee injury.
This always seemed like a possibility as Barr has practiced sparingly over the past month. He was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice and did not participate the rest of the week before being ruled out.
Asked if there’s been any consideration to shutting Barr down for a few weeks to get him healthy, coach Mike Zimmer replied, “Umm, you know, he’s close, so we’ll just see.”
In his absence, fellow linebacker Nick Vigil will call the defense in the noon Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That role is denoted by a green dot helmet and Vigil been preparing for it throughout training camp.
“He’s done a really nice job,” Zimmer said of Vigil. “I told somebody the other day that he reminds me of Chad Greenway. He’s very smart and conscientious about everything he does.”
It helps that Vigil started his career with the Bengals, as they run a very similar defensive scheme to the Vikings. That has allowed Vigil to pick up on things fairly quickly as he replaces a key player such as Barr.
“We ran this defense in Cincinnati my first couple years, so I was pretty familiar,” said Vigil, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Chargers. “Just a little rusty. It took a little time to get it down again. As time goes on, the more reps I got, the more comfortable I got in the system. I feel pretty comfortable now.”
Meanwhile, left tackle Christian Darrisaw is also out for the opener as he works his way back from a groin injury. He has been a limited participant in practice throughout the week, and it could be awhile before he’s ready for game action.
After being signed to the practice squad last week, veteran Sean Mannion will be the backup quarterback for Sunday game. He got the nod over rookie Kellen Mond.
In order for Mannion be the backup, the Vikings will have to elevate him from the practice squad. They can do that once more this season before being force to sign him to the 53-man roster for good.
“He’s done great,” Zimmer said of Mannion. “He’s a brilliant guy. He throws the ball well. He has a good grasp of the offense.”
On Friday afternoon, the Vikings announced their captains for this season. They will have eight in all this season: including quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, fullback C.J. Ham, receiver Adam Thielen, right tackle Brian O’Neill, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Harrison Smith.