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Vikings Roundup, 9/16: Barr Preps for Abdullah Again

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Somewhat lost in the list of things that didn't go as planned for the Vikings in their home opener was a significant return to action by linebacker Anthony Barr.

Monday marked Barr's first appearance in the regular season since Nov. 30 because of a knee injury that stopped short his promising rookie campaign in which he recorded 99 tackles, the fifth-most by a Vikings rookie ever.

According to press box statistics, Barr played all 73 defensive snaps against the 49ers and recorded a career-high 12 tackles. He was credited with 10 solo stops, which tied a career high, and made an impressive impact with Carlos Hyde for a loss of four yards in the fourth quarter. Barr surged through unblocked, making it three-plus yards behind the scrimmage as Hyde was taking the handoff from Colin Kaepernick.

The always low-key Barr was pretty reserved during open locker room when he spoke to reporters about that game and the upcoming challenge.

"They just outplayed us completely in every facet, so we've just got to get it cleaned up and be better," Barr said. "I think once they started hitting on us early, guys tried to do a little too much and maybe do things they weren't supposed to do, just out of position, and it cost us."

The Vikings shifted focus Wednesday to Detroit, which lost 33-28 at San Diego Sunday. The Lions, however, got a strong performance by rookie Ameer Abdullah (50 rushing yards on seven carries, 44 yards on four catches and 105 yards on three kickoff returns).

Barr has seen Abdullah twice before as a linebacker at UCLA (2012-13) when the Bruins played Nebraska.

"I played him a couple of times in college," Barr said. "He's a very quick and instinctive back, so we've got to contain him and make him run between the tackles."

Barr had four tackles, 1.5 for loss, a sack and forced fumble in 2012 when Abdullah rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

In the rematch, Barr had 10 tackles, 1.5 for loss and two forced fumbles, including one by Abdullah, who rushed for 98 yards on 23 carries and caught three passes for an additional 50 yards.   

Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings looked at Abdullah "really hard" during pre-draft evaluations.

"He's a big-time explosive back, gets in space, can put his foot in the ground and accelerate, catches the ball good out of the backfield," Zimmer said. "He's a dangerous weapon."

The Vikings said they need to do a better job of swarming to the ball this week.

"It can't be one guy making the play. It's got to be multiple guys," said 10-year veteran Chad Greenway, who split a sack with Everson Griffen. "We have to get off blocks and not be hanging on guys and get off and get multiple people around the ball. It's hard to make one-on-one tackles in this league."

Greenway was credited with two tackles on the press box tally and has 1,205 in his career, which is fourth-most in Vikings history.

Walsh back on campus: Griffen spoke about the Vikings going back to school in reference to film study, but Blair Walsh took it a step further by visiting the University of Minnesota to practice kicking at the site of this year's Vikings home games. Walsh was wide right from 44 yards on the Vikings first possession and good from 37 in the fourth quarter at San Francisco.

Walsh and specialists went to the U of M last season as well to learn more about wind patterns for the two seasons of outdoor football during the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium. He was asked about recent misses.

"Playing a professional sport, you have to take the accountability when it's good and when it's bad," Walsh said. "I understand that and understand when people are concerned and want to pay attention to the misses. I kind of face it like a man and move forward."

Walsh said it can be a challenge not to over-think things.

"You care so much about it, you put a lot of attention into your craft and detail into what you're doing," Walsh said. "You've got to sort of turn your brain off when you go out there and rely on everything you've worked on until that point."

Injuries update: Shamar Stephen (knee) and Jerick McKinnon (ankle) were the only two players listed on the injury report. Both fully participated at practice Wednesday. For the Lions: DeAndre Levy (hip), Haloti Ngata (shoulder), Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) and Golden Tate (quad) did not participate Wednesday. Caraun Reid (ankle), Darius Slay (ankle) and Larry Warford (ankle) were limited. Matthew Stafford (upper right arm) fully participated.

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