Vikings Notes: Bengals Sign Jake Browning; Wednesday Practice Important for Anthony Barr

Photo: Pioneer Press – John Autey

The 2021 NFL football season is upon us and the excitement is at a palpable level. On that week 1 slate is a matchup vs Mike Zimmer’s old team, the Cincinnati Bengals, that the Minnesota Vikings really need to win. Bringing the defense back up to competent pre-2020 levels is a big part of that victorious formula. Plenty of additions have been made but such improvement is easier said than done, especially without Anthony Barr, the team’s pre-snap leader on that side of the football.

Barr’s been out with what we believe is a knee injury, since August 5, but the Vikings have never given up on his week one status. That doesn’t mean his possible absence hasn’t already been discussed in-house. They probably have a better idea inside of TCO Performance Center but Chad Graff (The Athletic) believes we all might have a clearer picture of Barr’s week one status by this time tomorrow.

“Better on Paper” or “Paper Thin”?

The blogs and articles have been written from here to main street media. The Minnesota Vikings look like a much improved defense, on paper. They didn’t make any additions at linebacker, however. In fact, they lost Eric Wilson in free agency. If there was ever a time that this roster needed Anthony Barr the most, it’s right now.

A rather large mix of injury returnees and aging free agents have patched up Mike Zimmer’s worst-ever Vikings defense but ripping off any of those used band-aids could reveal the most infected parts of last year’s team once again. A mystery injury sidelining Anthony Barr for week one would be a bad way to kick it all off.

Bengals playing chess?

Clearly, they’re laying heavy importance on week 1 over in northern Ohio as well. In a chess-like maneuver this afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals signed former Vikings Training Camp All-Star QB, Jake Browning, to their practice squad. I’m sure this under-the-radar move won’t keep Mike Zimmer up at all the next few nights.

I’d love to shrug this off and make fun of its stupidity but signing Jake Browning a brilliant move by the Bengals. Will it make or break the game? Maybe not, but it’s a move that could gain the Bengals some extra insight on what the Vikings are trying to do offensively and it will ABSOLUTELY get into Mike Zimmer’s head.

Now, there’s only one obvious counterstrike for Rick Spielman to make.

Youngest Offense in NFL

In other news that may or may not matter, the Minnesota Vikings have the youngest offense in the NFL, according to OvertheCap.com. Because Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins get a lot of attention, it’s easy to forget just how young the offense is.

Dalvin Cook, for example, just turned 26 and star receiver, Justin Jefferson is barely 22. And without Riley Reiff to hold down the left side of the offensive line, its youth is front and center. Outside of Rashod Hill (29), who (we hope) isn’t a permanent starter at LT, the front-five doesn’t touch 27. Center Garrett Bradbury is the next oldest at 26 years and 79 days.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan