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Vikings Roundup, 6/16: Right Guard Reps; Barr Increases Activity

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Tyrus Thompson has been focused on getting his career off the ground, but a flight at 5 p.m. Thursday is in the back of his mind.

Hours after the Vikings mandatory minicamp wraps, the rookie will be headed to see his wife of three years and their two children, ending the longest amount of time he's spent away from his family.

"It's going to be great," Thompson said. "I love those kids."

Thompson arrived in Minnesota for a rookie minicamp a week after he was selected in the sixth round. We asked how he's different as a person and player from when he arrived in early May.

"As a person, I'm the same guy," Thompson said. "I've got a little more money in my pockets than I've ever had. It's been a great learning experience, just learning from these guys and living out the dream I've had since I was a little kid."

Part of Thompson's dream becoming a reality is playing some the past two weeks at right guard after playing left and right tackle at Oklahoma. Thompson worked at second-string left tackle earlier during the Vikings offseason program, a time that he said allows coaches to evaluate "what we can do, where we can be valuable."

"I think it's a great opportunity for me right now at that right guard spot, especially with trying to get on the field right now," Thompson said. "There's no pride in 'I'm a tackle or all that stuff.' It's I want to get on the field and play."

He said he's never played guard, but added with a laugh and smile, "there was a time when I had never played tackle, either."

He showed media savvy when asked where he's more comfortable by saying "offensive line."

Fellow rookie T.J. Clemmings, the fourth-round pick who played right tackle for two seasons at Pittsburgh after switching from defense to offense, had never played guard until joining the Vikings, either.

Clemmings opened the offseason training activity practices at right guard with the first team after the Vikings opted to slide Brandon Fusco to left guard. Clemmings worked at right tackle Tuesday, with Mike Harris filling in for Phil Loadholt with the first team. Seventh-round pick Austin Shepherd and potential defense-to-offense convert Isame Faciane also had snaps at right guard.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it will be easier to evaluate offensive line play when training camp opens next month.

"It's so difficult without the pads on to really know, because we're taking care of each other upfront," Zimmer said. "We're not trying to do anything, so the evaluation part is just difficult for me at this point in time. I mean, you can see balance and body movement and things like that. I feel good about a lot of those things, but the tenacity and the physicality and those things, we're going to have to wait until we get to camp."

Thompson said the offseason program has provided a "fun and exciting" learning opportunity from veterans like Loadholt and center John Sullivan.

"It's almost like having two coaches right there beside you so they've been helping me out," Thompson said. "When I go in the locker room (after the interview), I'm going to ask them about some of the stuff we did, make sure I didn't make any mistakes and try to clean up stuff the best I can to help us win a Super Bowl."

Barr raising participation

Linebacker Anthony Barr increased his amount of activity at Tuesday's practice after being sidelined while rehabbing this offseason. Barr said he's "feeling better" and likes what he's seen from teammates.

"We're a lot further this year than we were at this time last year," Barr said. "Everybody's excited, and I think we're making progress."

The ninth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft started the first 12 games of his career before a knee injury ended his debut campaign early. It wasn't, however, before Barr showed he can be a versatile and dynamic player in the Vikings defense. He said the offseason program has been a chance to discuss what he might hone in on during training camp.

"Yeah, we've been talking about some things that we'll probably start practicing a little more once training camp starts, but I'm excited," Barr said. "I'm feeling more comfortable than I did at this time last year, kind of understanding what my role is and what I'm asked to do, so I feel good."

Zimmer said Barr's increased participation in activities is "important for him and for us."

"He's got to get back, he hasn't really done football in a long time," Zimmer said. "It's good for him to get back out here and start moving around and get with the calls. I don't anticipate any problems, but I just think that it's good for his mindset and good for ours as well."

Another multitasker?

Barr also came up when Zimmer was asked about 2015 first-round pick Trae Waynes playing reps on the outside and covering the slot.

"I just think it's good for guys to learn as many things as you can," Zimmer said. "That was just part of the plan. We try to teach him in there. I've always liked to take guys and kind of like what we did with Barr last year, we gave him a lot of things to do and then we figured out what he could do best and go from there. If we don't ever give them opportunities to do those things, then we never really know."

Notes: Josh Robinson did not participate on the field Tuesday. Zimmer said the cornerback was rehabbing an injury the coach didn't disclose. … The Vikings released offseason free agent signee Taylor Mays, the team announced Tuesday morning.

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