Notebook: Anthony Barr auditioning for larger role, including at DE
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Anthony Barr motioned away from the Oakland Raiders tight end, blitzed off the edge and wrangled Matt Schaub to the TCF Bank Stadium turf for his first sack credit in the NFL on Friday night.
Barr, 22, has been learning as he goes during the Minnesota Vikings training camp and that education is set to widen as he auditions for roles in sub packages outside of strong-side linebacker.
"He got the half-sack on that one. Honestly, I told him that he kind of felt his way into the rush. He should've probably ran over the back," coach Mike Zimmer said. "This week, just so you can write this, we'll start moving [Barr] around a little bit more with some of the rush stuff."
The Vikings have their starting four defensive linemen in Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph">Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen; however they're still trying to peg down a third-down lineup emphasizing pass rush.
Griffen lined up as a defensive tackle (three-technique) pass rusher more than he lined up as a defensive end in his first four years in Minnesota. After signing a $42.5 million extension, Griffen will be the fulltime starter at right end.
But the Vikings are still toying with using Griffen as the three-technique pass rusher on third downs, which opens up a spot at defensive end. Defensive line coach Andre Patterson told 1500ESPN that he has a couple players in mind to fill that void.
"We're putting guys in different positions right now," Patterson said. "Just trying to see in the third-down situations: what's the best combination between our best four pass rushers to put out there. Sometimes we've used Linval and Sharrif inside, we've had Linval and Tom [Johnson] inside, we've had Sharrif and Tom inside, we've had Sharrif and Everson inside."
Who would play on the outside with Griffen inside?
"Barr's played out there in that situation; [Scott] Crichton has played out there in that situation."
As the Vikings start to shift Barr around different spots on defense, he'll have to continue to learn on the fly as his two years with the UCLA defense included just "three or four" instances where he was asked to put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end.
"I think it's about getting a lot of your weight on the front foot on the edge," Barr said. "It's kind of like a sprinter's stance. A little bit, it's complicated, little things that go into it; knowing which hand to put down, right side: left hand down, left side: right hand down."
'A lot of work to do'
Crichton saw the third-most snaps for a Vikings defender in Friday's 10-6 preseason win over the Raiders.
During his 36 snaps at defensive end, Crichton was pleased with certain facets of his game, but echoed Zimmer's call that the pass rush has to improve. The Vikings forced just two sacks compared to Oakland's six.
"I just got a lot of work to do, I know that," Crichton said. "I played the run pretty good, but definitely the pass rush has to be better. We got to get that fixed."
Crichton was tied with the team lead for two quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com, however he was given the lowest grade (-1.5) among all Vikings defenders in the game.
"I just have to be a technician," Crichton said. "That's something I have to do. Do angles. Everything has to be perfect on the rush."
In with the new
The Vikings cut undrafted free agent tight end AC Leonard last week after he missed a week of practice due to a head injury. He had been undergoing tests as recently as the day before he was cut, though he was waived without an injury designation.
Zimmer would not comment when asked about Leonard's release.
"You're going to have to talk to Rick [Spielman] about that," Zimmer said. "Obviously, we discuss it all, but I think that should go through Rick."
The Vikings added tight end Kory Sperry, who was wearing what was Leonard's No. 89 on Sunday, to fill his spot on the 90-man roster.
• Tom Johnson was absent from the Vikings afternoon practice, which was moved indoors due to a thunderstorm in Mankato.
• Jamarca Sanford (back), Mistral Raymond (head) and Robert Blanton (hamstring) all sat out practice and worked with a trainer on the side.
• Of those that sat out Friday's game: Chris Crocker, Marcus Sherels (hamstring), Josh Robinson (hamstring) and Andrew Sendejo (back) were full participants in practice on Sunday.
• Antonio Richardson, David Yankey, Joe Berger, Jeff Baca and Austin Wentworth lined up as the second-team offensive line at practice.
• Senator Al Franken attended the team's morning walkthrough.