After missing almost all of last season with a pectoral tear, a knee injury could keep Anthony Barr out for at least a second straight game to kick off the 2021 campaign. He didn't play against the Bengals and was unable to practice on Wednesday ahead of the Vikings' Week 2 matchup with the Cardinals. That makes it three straight practices missed for Barr since he participated in a limited fashion last Wednesday.
Mike Zimmer was non-committal when asked about Barr's potential availability.
“I don’t know," Zimmer said. "We’ll see how he is. I talked to him a little bit today. He’s feeling better than he did yesterday, so we’ll just have to see where he’s at."
Barr not practicing isn't a good sign that he'll be out there on Sunday in Arizona. At this point, it's very fair to be concerned about whether this could be something that affects Barr throughout the season. Luke Braun at Zone Coverage wrote an interesting, entirely speculative piece about the possibility of Barr having arthritis in his knee dating back a meniscus injury his rookie year. I have no idea if that's the case, but the pieces add up enough for it to make sense.
Also not ideal for the Vikings is that Barr's backup, Nick Vigil, is dealing with an ankle injury that made him a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. Vigil played all 69 defensive snaps in Cincinnati, recording 10 tackles, a sack, and an additional tackle for loss. If he can't go this week, Blake Lynch and Troy Dye would see significantly expanded roles, and Chazz Surratt or Ryan Connelly might even be needed for snaps at linebacker.
Besides Barr, the only other player not practicing for the Vikings on Wednesday was cornerback Harrison Hand, who has a hamstring injury. If Hand can't play on Sunday, Cameron Dantzler would presumably be active after his healthy scratch in Week 1. I wrote about Dantzler at length here, and Zimmer said today that the second-year corner needs to play special teams if he wants to get back on the field.
The Vikings also have Parry Nickerson and Tye Smith on the practice squad at cornerback. Nickerson would potentially need to be elevated as the backup slot corner if Hand is out. He has experience playing on the inside.
Lastly, rookie tackle Christian Darrisaw remains limited. As much as Vikings fans are nervous about seeing Rashod Hill go against Chandler Jones this week, Darrisaw isn't going to be out there. He just hasn't had enough practice time to be ready. Maybe in a week or two — we'll see.
For the Cardinals, right tackle Kelvin Beachum didn't practice Wednesday, and neither did defensive backups Devon Kennard and Charles Washington. If Beachum can't play on Sunday, it would be a notable loss for Arizona that would help out the Vikings' pass rush.
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