Raising the Barr: Vikings linebacker impressing as a rookie


It was the first play from scrimmage in overtime. The 2-5 Vikings needed a win to try and change their fortunes after a last-second loss in Buffalo the week before.

After Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon completed a pass to rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr bounded into action.

He chased down Seferian-Jenkins, grabbed ahold of him and ripped the ball out of his hands. Barr then scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 27 yards into the end zone, sealing the victory for the Vikings.

It was such a big play that ESPN's Ben Goessling named it as the best moment of the season, to this point.

Barr has been terrific through the first half of his rookie season. He has become an impact player on one of the NFL's most improved defensive units.

Through the first nine games Barr has recorded 58 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and a touchdown.

Those numbers have him as one of the early favorites to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

SB Nation's Stephen White says he would have expected Barr to be getting showered with the love that Oakland's Khalil Mack has been getting.

"Now, unlike the Raiders, the Vikings got it right from the start with Barr. While Barr also starts at the Sam linebacker position, he never comes off the field. He is either one of the nickel linebackers or a rush end on passing downs. The one major concern I had with Barr is that he would go to a team that wouldn't know how to use him, but he couldn't have landed in a better situation. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer knows exactly how to use Barr's talents to the fullest. But it's not just that they are putting Barr in a position to succeed, the rookie is doing his part by making the most of the spots he is put in. When it comes to making big plays, Barr has been a weapon for his team."

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