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NOTEBOOK: Barr Returns to OTA Practices, Explains Recent Absence

EAGAN, Minn. — Anthony Barr played 923 defensive snaps in 2017, the third-highest amount on the team and good for 92.76 percent of all defensive plays.

But the Vikings linebacker was not in attendance for the first three voluntary Organized Team Activity practices last week, instead choosing to take a protective measure as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract.

"I was hoping to get something done before OTAs," Barr said about his contract situation. "That didn't happen, so I had to protect myself and get an injury insurance policy.

"It took a week to get situated," Barr added. "But now I got that and I'm good to go."

He later added: "I thought it was in my best interest to protect myself."

Barr spoke to Twin Cities reporters after Wednesday's practice, the only session open to the media this week.

The linebacker said he is hopeful something gets done regarding his contract.

"That's with my agent. He's doing a great job," Barr said. "They're having conversations, but I don't know too many details on that. My focus is here with the team and getting better."

Barr put together a third consecutive Pro Bowl season for the Vikings in 2017.

He recorded 98 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) with nine tackles for loss, one sack and six passes defensed.

His play helped the Vikings lead the league in both points allowed and yards allowed per game.

"Each year we're ahead of schedule as to where we were the year before," Barr said of the defense. "Going into Year 5 now with these guys, it's been fun and awesome.

"Hopefully we can continue to build and get these young guys caught up to speed a little bit and just keep making each other better," Barr added.

Barr was in attendance in mid-April when the Vikings returned to start voluntary offseason workouts, the first at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

"It's great," Barr said of TCO Performance Center. "It's a beautiful place and a great place to play football."

Richardson enjoyed the grind

Sheldon Richardson's early impressions of the Vikings have been positive.

And a little grimy.

That doesn't bother Richardson, who signed with the Vikings as a free agent in March.

"A real hard, grind-it-out type team," Richardson described. "We're grinding it out right now in OTAs. This is kind of what they told me it was like anyways."

Richardson said he's been focused on picking up Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's rigorous defense, while also fine-tuning his technique under Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson.

"It has its days of being friendly," Richardson said of the defense. "But then you throw in blitz packages and stuff like that, and it gets complicated.

"We're still getting to know each other and get that chemistry down," Richardson added. "I'm still getting right with Coach Dre's technique, so it's just catching up."

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Richardson has blended well into the Vikings scheme and culture.

"This is really a critical time for us to kind of see his skill set and what he's bringing; that'll continue over when we get to training camp," Edwards said. "He's been doing an excellent job thus far of paying attention to the details.

"He's in a very good room, a lot of good guys around him that are kind of helping each other, coaching each other through situations," Edwards added. "We're pleased with where we are right now, but we look to continue on through the offseason and training camp to keep working on that process."

Richardson has started 70 of 73 career games played in five seasons, including 15 with Seattle in 2017 when he had 44 tackles (27 solo), a sack, one pass defensed, two fumble recoveries and his first career interception.

Thielen rates his bobbleheads

Adam Thielen is an All-Pro wide receiver who eclipsed 1,200 yards and made his first Pro Bowl in 2017.

But the Vikings wide receiver is about to become even more well-known as the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum recently released a pair of bobblehead of Thielen's likeness.

One of them features Thielen in his No. 19 Vikings jersey making a catch. The second features the Minnesota State, Mankato alum in his No. 9 Mavericks jersey in full stride.

"It doesn't really look like me, but it's interesting for sure," Thielen said with a laugh. "They got the No. 9 jersey on there and everything."

Each bobblehead can be purchased for $40, while the set is $75.

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