NFL Team Report: Minnesota Vikings - NOTES, QUOTES
--Vikings first-round draft pick Anthony Barr isn't a big fan of the NFL rule that prevents rookies from participating in any team activities other than the rookie minicamp until their class graduates from college.
"I was real bored," said Barr, the ninth overall draft pick who missed all of the team's organized team activities (OTAs) because UCLA is on the quarters system.
"It was the longest four weeks, really. But it was a good time for me to kind of decompress a little bit and get my mind right for this."
Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer flew out to Los Angeles to tutor the ninth overall draft pick in the team's new defense. But there's only so much book work and individual drills that a man can do before he needs to actually see how his 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame will be put to good use.
Finally able to participate during this week's mandatory three-day minicamp, Barr's versatility was put into play immediately. He played strong-side linebacker in both the base and nickel packages.
He also did something he's never done since moving from running back to linebacker just two years ago: Put his hand in the dirt as a pass-rushing defensive end.
"Right now, we're kind of just working at different skill sets, different positions and where his skill sets go," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "So, systematically, we are flexible enough that we can take his skill set and put him in positions where hopefully it helps us, most advantageous, whether rushing the passer, whether it's dropping in coverage."
Barr's skills are vast, but his lack of experience caused coach Mike Zimmer to refer to him as a "fawn" on draft day. Well, the so-called fawn knew that if he was going to fall down this week, he was going to do it full bore.
"There's a little bit of a learning curve missing OTAs, but it kind of is what it is," Barr said. "I knew I was going to make mistakes.
"I just had to make sure I did those at full speed. Not many nerves, just a lot of excitement, and I'm just happy to be here."
--Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer says he is not worried about the soon-to-be-released independent investigation into charges that he used anti-gay remarks in team meetings and discriminated against former punter Chris Kluwe because of Kluwe's support of gay marriage rights.
"It's been one of those things where I come to work every morning and I'm excited about the direction of this football team," Priefer said Wednesday during Day 2 of the Vikings' three-day minicamp. "I really like our coaching staff and I'm excited about our new players and excited about the guys we retained and came back. So my focus has been totally on football."
In early January, Kluwe blasted Priefer, general manager Rick Spielman and former head coach Leslie Frazier in an article for Deadspin. Most of the venom was directed at Priefer, whom Kluwe called a bigot.
Kluwe, who was released before the 2013 season, also accused Priefer of using anti-gay remarks during the 2012 season and pushing for Kluwe's release because of Kluwe's highly-visible support of Minnesota's gay marriage rights. That caused the Vikings to launch an investigation headed by former Minnesota chief justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice attorney Chris Madel.
Results of the investigation could come as early as this weekend, although they've been expected for a couple of months.
Priefer deflected questions about Kluwe's accusations on Wednesday, preferring to keep the focus on football. However, shortly after Kluwe's article appeared, Priefer did deny the charges. In a released statement, he said:
"I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe. I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.
"The primary reason I entered coaching was to affect people in a positive way. As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field.
"The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children.
"I will continue to work hard for the Minnesota Vikings, the Wilf family and all of our loyal fans."
--There is no area in which the team's new coaching regime didn't look to improve when it took over in January. And that includes what the players eat while at team headquarters or in next month's training camp.
For instance, the Vikings have removed bacon, fried items, mayonnaise and creamy-based sauces from their menu.
Coach Mike Zimmer said the approach is helping the team. He claims the team has lost a combined 170 pounds of fat and gained 70 pounds of muscle.
"It's a collective effort," Zimmer said. "The strength coaches and trainers brought it to my attention. So, heck, I think even (general manager) Rick (Spielman) said he's lost some weight.
"I think I've actually lost weight too, but I think that's from stress. I'm eating fish every day for lunch. That's a change for me too."