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Vikings’ Barr glad to start practices

By Chris Tomasson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS — For most of the past month, the Vikings have held workouts at their Winter Park facility. Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr wished he could have been there.

NFL rules, though, prohibited that. Because his school, UCLA, was on the quarter system academically and hadn’t completed classes, all the first-round draft pick could do was wait.

“I was real bored, man,” Barr said Wednesday. “It was the longest four weeks.”

Barr this week finally was able to take field for the first time since a May 16-18 rookie minicamp he was allowed to attend. He arrived Tuesday to start a three-day minicamp after missing 10 days of organized team activities.

But that apparently hasn’t been too evident. Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards is impressed with how quickly Barr has gotten up to speed.

“His first day back for this mandatory minicamp, he seemed to understand the concepts of what it is we’re trying to teach right off the bat,” Edwards said.

Barr said he still feels “a little behind.” But he said it helped the several times that linebackers coach Adam Zimmer flew to California to meet with him over the past month.

Defense will continue to be a learning process for Barr. He only played two years on defense after spending his first two years at UCLA at running back.

On Tuesday, when quarterback Matt Cassel tried to draw the defense offside, Barr jumped. On Wednesday, Barr had a new experience when he lined up in front of the offensive line.

“I’ve never had my hand down before, so it’s something that’s still new to me,” Barr said. “(It’s) something I worked on when I was gone, so I’m going to continue to improve on it as I continue to practice.”

The coaches aren’t the only people talking about how quickly Barr is picking things up. So is the team’s other first-round draft pick, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, picked up by the Vikings with the No. 32 selection, 23 picks after Barr.

“He’s a very smart guy … He’s so eager to learn,” Bridgewater said. “Ever since he’s been here, he’s been going nonstop.”

Three Vikings rookies were restricted over the past month because of their school’s academic schedule. Guard David Yankey, a fifth-round pick from Stanford, return to the team last week. Like Barr, defensive end Scott Crichton, a third-round selection from Oregon State, joined the team this week.

“I have a lot of responsibilities, a lot of stuff to learn,” Barr said. “But it’s something I’m asked to do, something I’m willing to do, something I want to do. I just want to help this team win, so whatever they ask me, I’m going to do.”

The Vikings conclude the minicamp Thursday. Training camp in Mankato begins in five weeks, on July 25.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.