Notebook: First-rounders get first exposure

Anthony Barr had the better day of the Vikings’ two first-round picks, but both were happy to get their NFL initiation in the books. Plus, get 20 notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings’ 10-6 win in the preseason opener.

While there weren’t nearly as many eyes on Friday’s 10-6 win by the Vikings over the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium as there will be a month from now, two players Vikings fans have been itching to see for the last three months both made their NFL debuts – linebacker Anthony Barr and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Both had their moments and both were excited about seeing their dreams of playing in the NFL come true.

“It was a lot of fun,” Barr said. “I was really looking forward to getting on the field for the first game. It wasn’t perfect. There were some mistakes I will need to correct, but I thought it was a good way to start.”

Barr shared a sack and was a disruptive player who showed off his speed. Defensive end Brian Robison said he wasn’t able to see too much of Barr’s play Friday, but said the rookie has been impressing him every day in practice.

“He looked like he was running around making some plays out there,” Robison said. “I think he had a sack tonight, so that’s always good to see. That’s the thing with this kid – he’s such a physical feature out there. If he plays half as good as he looks, he’s going to be pretty good.”

There were some concerns that Barr might take time to develop into an NFL player because he only played two years of linebacker at UCLA. But he’s been absorbing the information from head coach Mike Zimmer like a sponge and is seeing that what is being taught is translating to the field.

“I think it showed what we’ve been seeing the first couple of weeks of camp,” Barr said. “Everyone is working hard and getting better as a team every day and I think it showed out there.”

Barr was on display as both an outside linebacker and a stand-up pass rusher and, while isn’t clear how the play-calling for his role in the defense will play out, he’s excited about the prospects.

“Whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to do,” Barr said. “That was just one of those plays that I happened to come off the edge and there were a couple of plays like that. When I do that, I can be effective.”

Bridgewater had some struggles, completing just 6 of 13 passes for 49 yards while taking three sacks, but he felt good about how his debut game went.

“I feel like it went pretty well,” Bridgewater said. “There were some missed opportunities, but I’ll be able to come back next week and play more aggressive – watch film, continue to study and get better from here.”

The crowd let Bridgewater know how they felt about him, chanting “Teddy! Teddy!” often during his stint in the game. However, it didn’t register with Bridgewater because he had his mind on more important things.

“I was so tuned into the game that I couldn’t hear anything that was going on. But, it was good to see the fans here today,” Bridgewater said. “We talk about having home-field advantage and, in order to have home-field advantage, the crowd’s going to have to be there. Tonight they did a great job of being behind the team.”

Like Barr, Bridgewater was pleased with how his instruction during OTAs and training camp is translating onto the field. Both of them have a lot to learn, but these first baby steps will be the start of what both hope will be the start of making them two of the faces of the franchise.

“When you play within your character and playing within yourself, things come easily,” Bridgewater said. “When you have a coaching staff like we have, they make playing come easy – where you’re not anxious. It was great to be able to get out there and get a feel of what it’s like to get a snap in the National Football League.”

VIKINGS-RAIDERS GAME NOTES


  • Because the Vikings offense was in a clock-killing shell for much of the second half, while the Raiders were throwing much of the time in the late going, Oakland actually outgained the Vikings 268-236, including a 224-129 yardage edge in the final three quarters.

  • The Vikings ran the ball almost twice as many times as the Raiders – 34 for Minnesota and just 18 for Oakland.

  • The Vikings defense consistently stopped the Raiders offense. In the first half, Oakland converted just 2 of 7 third downs. In the second half, they converted just 2 of 6 in the second half.

  • There was only one turnover in the game for both teams, an interception by Kurt Coleman, which was very clean for a first preseason game when communication between always-changing personnel can lead to problems.

  • The Vikings dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 34:06 to just 25:54 for the Raiders.

  • The Vikings started off both halves by holding the ball for the vast majority of the time. In the first and third quarters, the Vikings held the ball for 21:39, while Oakland had the ball for just 8:21 of those 30 minutes.

  • Both the Vikings offense and defense were sharp early. The Raiders got the ball to start the game and went three-and-out. On their first drive, the Vikings ran off 10 plays, going 70 yards for a touchdown. Matt Cassel was 5 of 6 in the drive for 62 yards – completing a pair of passes to Cordarrelle Patterson for 25 yards. The Vikings converted and pair of third-and-long situations (a third-and-7 and a third-and 6 – to keep the drive alive that set up their touchdown.

  • Adam Thielen started the game as the punt returner and, on his second return of the first quarter, he broke off a 26-yard return. On his third return, he had a 24-yard return.

  • In his first drive, Bridgewater had a 21-yard pass to Greg Jennings negated by an illegal formation penalty, but he was able to drive the Vikings into scoring position. A fumble in the red zone that was alertly covered by offensive tackle Matt Kalil nearly killed the drive, but the 11-play drive ended with a Blair Walsh field goal that gave the Vikings a 10-0 lead.

  • The Vikings dominated the first quarter, outgaining the Raiders 107-44. The Vikings were 3 of 4 on third down, while the Raiders failed to convert both of their opportunities. The Vikings had eight first downs, as opposed to just one for Oakland.

  • The Raiders didn’t cross midfield until 8:19 remained in the first half.

  • Bridgewater got sacked two times in the first half.

  • Oakland had six penalties in the first half – all of them coming at critical times and two of them prolonged Vikings drives after third-down plays failed.

  • Christian Ponder finished out the game, completing 3 of 7 passes for 39 yards but was fortunate to escape without an interception after a couple of close calls.

  • As is the custom in preseason games, a lot of players caught passes. A total of 22 players ended up with receptions – 12 for the Raiders and 10 for the Vikings.

  • Rookie Jerick McKinnon ended up leading all rushers with 12 rushes for 45 yards.

  • The Vikings have finished the preseason with a record of .500 or better in 40 of their 53 seasons.

  • Friday’s games included a pair of coaching reunions. Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was the head coach of the Raiders in 2004-05 and former Vikings defensive backs coach Joe Woods (2006-13) is now the defensive backs coach for Oakland.

  • Friday was the fifth time the Vikings and Raiders have met in the preseason . The Vikings have won four of them.

  • The paid attendance was 51,752.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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