Vikings plan to have Anthony Barr rush the quarterback more in 2018

Barr has 10.5 sacks in four NFL seasons, but racked up 23.5 in college.
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Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has been effective when given opportunities to rush the quarterback, and it looks like head coach Mike Zimmer wants him to do more of that next season. 

Barr spent time during organized team activities and last week's mandatory minicamp working with defensive linemen in pass-rushing drills. 

"We are trying to get him where he is more comfortable rushing against linemen," Zimmer said, via Vikings.com. "That was part of our plan this spring."

Barr has 10.5 sacks in four NFL seasons, but he was a ferocious pass rusher in college at UCLA, totaling 13.5 sacks his junior season and 10 more as a senior. 

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It's unclear if the Vikings will have Barr rush from a position with his hand in the grass like Everson Griffen or Danielle Hunter, or if they'll have him attack as a stand-up edge rusher the way Von Miller often does in Denver. 

Zimmer told KFAN's Paul Allen last week that his entire defensive philosophy is based on finding players who can rush the quarterback and players who can cover receivers.

And after drafting cornerback Mike Hughes in May, Zimmer said he plans on experimenting with a hybrid scheme in which he utilizes four cornerbacks and one safety on the field, which could give a guy like Barr more opportunities to focus on going after the quarterback.

"We are looking at some new things defensively this year," Zimmer said. "I think it'll be a good addition to what we're doing, mixing things up a littler bit." 

Barr missed the first week of OTAs to take out an insurance policy on himself, a move he said he had to make to protect himself from injury. Barr is unsigned after the 2018 season, so any injury he suffers without first signing a contract extension could cost him a lot of money. 

Zimmer told Allen that he hopes the Vikings are able to finalize contract extensions with Barr, Hunter and wide receiver Stefon Diggs before the season begins. 

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