Mike Zimmer expects top Vikings defender to return to field in Week 5

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Anthony Barr
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Anthony Barr /

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday that he thinks linebacker Anthony Barr will make his 2021 regular-season debut in Week 5.

After missing the entire 2020 season due to injury, the Minnesota Vikings were excited to have linebacker Anthony Barr back on the field for the current 2021 campaign. However, a knee injury has kept Barr out of the Vikings’ first four games this year, and the defense has struggled in his absence.

It sounds like things could be changing though when Minnesota welcomes the Detroit Lions to U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 5.

On Monday, Mike Zimmer was asked about the status of Barr, and the Vikings head coach said that he thinks the veteran linebacker is going to play on Sunday against the Lions.

What could the return of Anthony Barr mean for the Minnesota Vikings moving forward?

When Minnesota selected Barr in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of UCLA, he was known more as a pass-rushing linebacker. While he still possesses the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback these days, he’s more of a well-rounded linebacker at this point in his career with the Vikings.

Barr is the quiet leader of Minnesota’s defense who is constantly praised by the team’s coaching staff for the things that he does for the unit that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

During his time with the Vikings, Barr has developed into a solid tackler, and he’s someone who improves the team’s run defense whenever he’s out on the field. So far this season, Minnesota is among the NFL leaders in missed tackles, and their defense is one of the worst in the league when it comes to stopping the run.

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Each of these aspects of the Vikings defense should improve once Barr returns to the field. Will that happen next Sunday against Detroit? We’ll know more later on in the week, but the optimism surrounding a possible return for the linebacker seems higher than it has during the last four weeks.