The Vikings defense’s longest playing streak comes to an end Sunday night as linebacker Anthony Barr, who had started 44 consecutive games, has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury. Second-year linebacker Eric Wilson, who already had carved out a niche as a coverage specialist in head coach Mike Zimmer’s nickel packages, is expected to make his first NFL start.
“He’s played well,” Zimmer said. “A lot of these times, these guys that are good special teams players turn into good offensive and defensive players.”
Wilson and linebacker Eric Kendricks face a behemoth task in defending Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who is third among all NFL running backs in receptions and receiving yards. The Saints line up Kamara all over the formations, from out wide to the backfield, making it tough for the Vikings to get the matchups they want.
Kamara had four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ NFC Divisional playoff win against the Saints in January.