MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Anthony Barr has spent most of this season watching NFL games from his couch.
He’s watched every Minnesota Vikings game this season, and then his phone rang on Monday. It was the Vikings, who needed a veteran linebacker after Jordan Hicks went down against the New Orleans Saints with a shin injury that later required him to go to the hospital for a procedure to treat "compartment syndrome."
The Vikings placed Hicks on IR on Tuesday, which means he’s out at least four weeks and will miss a minimum of three games. The Vikings signed Barr to the practice squad on Tuesday.
Barr is excited to be back in Minnesota, and to play for Brian Flores.
"It was cool watching football on Sundays from the couch, that was different. I see why y’all like it so much. Defensively they play very fast and aggressive, and a style that I think kind of fits my abilities very well," Barr said Wednesday.
A 2014 Vikings’ first round pick, Barr spent eight seasons in Minnesota and was a Pro Bowl pick four times. He played in 14 games and got 10 starts with the Dallas Cowboys last season, and was a free agent until the Vikings called.
He came back to TCO Performance Center and saw familiar faces in Kirk Cousins, Harrison Smith and Danielle Hunter. He had to call former teammate and one of his best friends, Eric Kendricks, to get the OK to wear No. 54.
"His history and just the feelings toward the player and person from his time here as a great player, made it pretty easy. I think in addition to that, talking to the guys that he played with, I think he was excited to come back and be a part of it," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. "We were fired up to get him."
O’Connell visited with Hicks Tuesday night after he was released from the hospital, and says he’s in good spirits. He does expect Hicks to return this season.
"There’s still some healing that has to happen and we wanted to make sure that we get him 100 percent back. It’s hard to put into words the type of loss that he’ll be for our group," O’Connell said. "When I saw him the other night he was watching tape of the Broncos and had all his supplements lined up like it was just any other day."
Barr has been a fan of Hicks, watching him play from the couch. Hicks had 50 tackles on the season, which was second on the defense, and had the green dot to communicate on-field alignments and adjustments.
"One of my favorite players to watch this year. He provides so much leadership on and off the field for this team. If I can fill just a percentage of what he’s meant to the organization since he’s been here, that’s all I’m trying to do," Barr said.
Barr will start out with the practice squad. If he can get up to speed on the defense fast enough will determine if he can play Sunday night at Denver.
It remains to be seen if Justin Jefferson can return Sunday night at Denver for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury that put him on IR after Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jefferson’s 21-day practice window opened last week. O’Connell said Wednesday they’ll ramp him up in practice, and his status is day-to-day.
"We’re kind of in that day to day ramping him up phase now. If it’s possible at all to have him for this weekend, we’ll determine that. I can tell you he can’t wait to get back going," O’Connell said.
In other injury news:
Nick Mullens’ practice window opened Wednesday as he works his way back from a back injury. Jaren Hall is also clearing concussion protocol. It’s possible the Vikings could have three healthy quarterbacks Sunday between Joshua Dobbs, Mullens and Hall.
Alexander Mattison did not practice Wednesday as he has not yet cleared concussion protocol
K.J. Osborn has cleared concussion protocol and fully participated Wednesday
Joshua Dobbs (ankle) and Dean Lowry (groin) fully participated
DOBBS COMPARES QB POSITION TO ENGINEERING
Joshua Dobbs has taken the NFL by storm in two weeks with the Vikings, leading Minnesota to a pair of wins with his arm and legs. The leagues Twitter account even features a header, "In Dobbs We Trust."
He has 426 yards passing and three touchdowns in two games, and 110 yards on the ground and two rushing scores. His ability to make quick decisions and use his legs gives the Vikings’ offense a dimension it hasn’t previously had. He’s also got an aerospace engineering degree from Tennessee. Dobbs compared both worlds on Wednesday.
"There’s definitely some synergy. When you’re in engineering school, you show up Day 1 as a freshman and they just throw a ton of problems at you. You’re given equations, and you have to critically think how to solve those problems efficiently. Football is the same way, you show up, defense presents a plethora of difficulties and scenarios and blitzes and fronts, they throw all those at you and as a quarterback, you have to get your team in the right play," Dobbs said. "Obviously as an engineer, you’re not given a 40-second clock to do that. That process of having to critically think, problem solve and repeat process of applying multiple principles across different situations does translate between being an engineer and a quarterback."