The Minnesota Vikings had hopes of starting the 2021 NFL regular season off fast on opening weekend last Sunday, but those aspirations were met with disappointment following a Week 1 overtime loss on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. Now, Minnesota’s focus shifts to the second week of the season when it remains on the road to take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in Arizona.
The task of stealing a game on the road against the Cardinals will not be an easy one for the Vikings, much like what was the case in the season-opener in Cincinnati, and Minnesota could also remain short-handed once again in the game with a few key players on both sides of the ball dealing with injuries early in the new season.
In order for the Vikings to get back on track and crack into the win column, they need those players back as soon as possible to fill in some holes currently present without them on the field.
Minnesota Vikings Need Darrisaw, Barr Back From Injuries To Get Back on Track
Right out of the gate to begin the regular season, two players who will be key for Minnesota on both offense and defense missed the Week 1 contest as they try and battle back from injuries suffered either during training camp or in the three-game preseason schedule. Notably, those players are rookie offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw and veteran linebacker Anthony Barr.
Darrisaw Would Boost Struggling Offensive Line
Darrisaw, who was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, missed the first game of the season last week while dealing with a groin injury. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week going into Week 1, so it appears he could be on the verge of returning. If he is able to make his debut in Week 2, his presence would no doubt help the offensive line which struggled with penalties and miscommunication against the Bengals.
In last week’s loss, Minnesota’s offensive line saw Cincinnati blitz 19 times, resulting in the Bengals tallying three sacks, five quarterback hits, and 17 pressures on quarterback Kirk Cousins. In Week 2, the Vikings offensive line will be put to the test once again against a Cardinals defense that put together a strong season-opening showing, when Chandler Jones (five sacks), J.J. Watt, and company recorded six sacks against the Tennessee Titans. That is why Darrisaw getting back into the mix on the front line would greatly help the Vikings pass protection and run blocking.
Barr Could Help Anchor Defense in Tough Test
Barr, entering his eighth season in the NFL, all with the Vikings, missed the Week 1 contest while he tries to recover from a knee injury, an injury that the team has been oddly secretive about. Barr started the week of practice prior to the Vikings first game of the season as a limited participant, but then didn’t take part in the final two practices which resulted in him sitting out in Cincinnati.
Minnesota’s defense didn’t look terrible to start the year last weekend, but they gave up a total of 217 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 149 yards and one touchdown on the ground. The Vikings defense also gave up some big plays to Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense which resulted in the Vikings playing from behind the entire game.
In Week 2 against Arizona, that can’t happen again for Minnesota as it faces the high-powered offense led by Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona is a team that can push the game out of reach quickly with the talent both through the air and on the ground. Having a veteran anchor like Barr back in the middle of the defense would at the very least help the Vikings in those efforts in a tough road environment.
Minnesota will have a tough test of trying to get its first win of the year and avoid a two-game losing streak to start the regular season this Sunday against Arizona. That is why getting Darrisaw and Barr healthy and back on the field as soon as possible would help in the Vikings quest of getting things back on track.