After missing 18 straight games, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr looks ready to return.
Barr has sat out the first four games this season due to a knee injury. That follows having missed the final 14 last year following shoulder surgery.
“I think he’ll play this week,’’ Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said Monday of Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Barr practiced all of last week on a limited basis and was listed as questionable for the game against Cleveland. But he didn’t play in Sunday’s 14-7 loss.
Zimmer said Barr’s replacement, Nick Vigil, did a “really nice job in a lot of areas” in the first four games. But Barr, in his eighth Minnesota season, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
“Anthony Barr has been in the system for a long, long time, and there’s certain things we can do with him that we haven’t been able to do in these first four ball games,’’ Zimmer said. “You know, he’s feeling better every single day.’’
Zimmer said Barr might have made a difference on one key play against Cleveland. The Browns converted on third-and-20 from their 26 in the final minute of the first half with a 33-yard run by Kareem Hunt, and that led to a field goal.
“Plays like that, you don’t think much of them. But in a tight ball game like that, it can cause … you to win or lose,’’ Zimmer said.
Another key Minnesota defensive player, nose tackle Michael Pierce, was lost in the third quarter against the Browns with an elbow injury. Zimmer said after the game he would have a magnetic resonance imaging exam, but the coach Monday afternoon said he had not yet received the results.
More plays for Griffen?
Vikings reserve defensive end Everson Griffen had his second straight game Sunday with a sack and was in for a season-high 43 snaps. Could even more playing time be coming his way?
“He’s playing really well and doing a lot of good things, so we’re talking about how we can continue to use him and still kind of be fresh for the rest of the year,’’ Zimmer said.
Griffen, 33, returned to the Vikings after initially playing for them from 2010-19. Griffen averaged 31 snaps in the first two games he played this season.
The Vikings released undrafted rookie wide receiver Whop Philyor from the practice squad, leaving them with an opening on the 16-man squad.
Philyor, who played at Indiana, played in all three Minnesota preseason games and had three catches for 54 yards.