Smith, who wore 35 in college at Southern Cal, explained that he had reached out to Vikings longtime equipment manager Dennis Ryan to explain he needed a “fresh start” after such a trying year.
“And when they brought in the number rule [change], I just looked at the best number available, in my eyes; I felt like 32 was the one. It feels good,” Smith said. “I just feel like this was the one for me, and I’m excited to wear something new.
“It just feels like a new me,” Smith added. “I got a new heart, a new number, it’s a brand new me. It’s fun.”
In addition to prepping for a return to action, Barr this season agreed to a contract restructure that helped the team navigate a tight salary cap situation.
There were a number of reasons, he noted, for making the decision, but he ultimately wanted to make every effort to stay in Purple.
“I didn’t want to go out like that … [getting] hurt and then missing an entire year. I didn’t want that to be my last memory as a Minnesota Viking, so that played a big factor in returning and taking the pay-cut to be back with this organization,” Barr said.
During Wednesday’s OTA practice that was open to media, Barr, Smith and Troy Dye filled the first-team roles in the base package of 7-on-7 team drills. Eric Kendricks, who missed the final five games of the 2020 season with an injury, was present at practice but did not participate in team drills.
It’s no secret that Minnesota’s defense struggled last season, and Barr feels strongly about getting the unit back on track.
And at 29 years old, Barr has suddenly become one of the Vikings eight oldest non-specialist players.
“I think the expectations remain the same. You want to do your job at a high level, come to work every day. ‘Lead by example’ has kind of always been my M.O., and having a lot of younger guys, they’re kind of looking at you to see how things are done, so I’m going about things the right way,” Barr said. “I don’t think I’m doing any more differently, in terms of coming to work and making sure I’m at the right place at the right time, on time and not making the same mistake twice, all of that good stuff. I think it’s important to — the culture here has always been pretty good. I kind of want to keep that the same. I think we have a good group of guys that are willing to buy-in and just go about the process the way that I’ve been taught how the Vikings organization expects.”