The Vikings have lost yet another Pro Bowl player off their once-vaunted defense.
Head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday, Sept. 21, that linebacker Anthony Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who was injured late in the first quarter in Sunday’s 28-11 loss at Indianapolis, is out for the season due to a torn right pectoral muscle. He was placed on injured reserve.
The Vikings already have on injured reserve defensive end Danielle Hunter, who has made two Pro Bowls. During the offseason, they lost defensive linemen Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who all have made multiple Pro Bowls.
Barr, taken in first round of the 2014 draft, made Pro Bowls from 2014-18. He has been a team captain since 2018.
“Anthony was our first draft pick that we had when we came here and a big, integral part of the defense,” Zimmer said. “Good leader. Great guy. It’s tearing him up inside that he’ll not be able to play. But it is what it is, and we’ve got to move on.”
Barr was hurt on the next-to-last-play of the first quarter. On third-and-10, he and safety Harrison Smith tackled Colts running back Jonathan Taylor at the Vikings 13 after a five-yard reception, and Barr emerged from the play holding his right shoulder.
The Colts got a first down on the play due to cornerback Jeff Gladney being called for illegal contact. Barr stayed in for one more play, the final one of the first quarter.
With Barr out, rookie Troy Dye is expected to move into a starting role alongside linebackers Eric Kendricks and Eric Wilson.
“I thought Troy came in and did some good things,” Zimmer said of Sunday’s game. “He had a couple missed tackles but he ran pretty well.”
Barr wore the headset and called the defensive plays. After he went out Sunday, Kendricks took over that role.
“Once Barr went out, it got a little confusing because Eric was trying to get the calls from the headset and make the calls and get guys lined up,” Zimmer said. “So, it got a little confusing.”
The Vikings also have at linebacker Ryan Connelly, an Eden Prairie native who was claimed off waivers Sept. 6 from the New York Giants. Connelly made his Vikings debut Sunday and got in for one play on defense in the second quarter when Dye was out with an ankle injury.
The Vikings have on the practice squad Hardy Nickerson, who played in Week 1 on special teams. He is a candidate to be signed to the 53-man roster.
Of Minnesota’s six captains, four are on offense. Barr’s injury leaves Smith as the only defensive captain until Zimmer names a replacement.
The Vikings have been slipping on defense since they were ranked No. 1 in the NFL in 2017 in both scoring and total defense. In total defense, they dropped to No. 4 in 2018 and No. 14 in 2019.
Last March, the Vikings released Joseph and Rhodes after they declined to take pay cuts. They offered a contract Griffen as a free agent but he elected in August to sign with Dallas.
Entering Monday night, the Vikings ranked No. 29 in the NFL in total defense and No. 31 in scoring defense. The only team to have allowed more points than Minnesota’s 71 in the first two weeks was Atlanta (78).