Rookie linebacker and Vikings leading tackler Anthony Barr has started the first three games of the season but he may be filling a different role when the Falcons visit TCF Bank Stadium this weekend. If veteran linebacker Chad Greenway can't play because of hand and rib injuries, Barr will be in charge of calling the defense for the Vikings.
1500 ESPN's Andrew Krammer touches on Barr's trial run calling the plays last week when Greenway went down and expectations going into the Falcons game:
Barr, 22, will take command of the Minnesota Vikings' defensive huddle if veteran linebacker Chad Greenway can't play with a broken hand and broken rib on Sunday. Barr experimented in the preseason, but got a reality check when Greenway left early in Sunday's loss at the Superdome and Barr was put in charge of relaying Mike Zimmer's play call.
Since 2008, NFL defenses have been allowed two players to be geared up with the mic system - only one allowed on the field at a time.
"There were some plays where [the speaker] didn't go off at all and some plays where it cutoff early," Barr said. "Technology, you can't live with it, can't live without it."
The worst-case scenario is the Vikings had to run the same defensive play call before a break in the action would allow the sideline to find a solution. The most recent technical difficulty was the Vikings' second in-game communication issue through three regular season games.
"We have to get that fixed," Zimmer said postgame.
For Barr, the added responsibility is piled on top of his already long list of duties in the Vikings defense; the rookie already lines up as a defensive end in certain third-down sets, he's the strong-side linebacker in base packages and shares the field with Greenway as the two nickel linebackers.
The decision for Barr to relay the play calls in Greenway's absence is a natural one, as he's the only other linebacker in the game on every down.
"It was definitely a challenge," Barr said. "I don't have the defense mastered by any means, but I'll just try to get everybody set up and ready to roll."
*While shouldering the added responsibility, Barr will look to have his fourth consecutive game with double digits tackles against the Falcons. *
-* *Falcons' Matt Ryan knows challenges ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, via Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press.
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