EAGAN, Minn. -- When the Vikings made a roster move in October that led to a locker being open next to the one for linebacker Anthony Barr, rookie cornerback Kris Boyd swooped in and claimed it.
So, for the past two months, Boyd and Barr have been at adjacent lockers at the TCO Performance Center. The rookie said he learns something just about every day from the four-time Pro Bowl selection.
“I see him as a big brother to me,’’ Boyd said. “He kind of took me in when I got here.’’
Barr is in his sixth season with the Vikings and second as one of six team captains. Since becoming a captain last year, the soft-spoken Barr has sought to be even more of a leader.
After Boyd, 23, was selected in the seventh round of the draft out of Texas in April, he got to know Barr. The linebacker saw something in him.
“His personality is just kind of contagious,’’ said Barr, 27. “He’s got a very positive spirit, a positive vibe. He keeps things entertaining. It’s good to have a younger perspective around some older guys. He keeps things fresh and funky for us.’’
Barr certainly has a soft spot for Boyd. When he learned that Boyd had somehow been left out of receiving a present in a Christmas gift-giving exchange in the Vikings locker room, Barr stepped up and surprised him with a nifty Louis Vuitton bag.
“He was a little hurt on Christmas because I guess he didn’t get a gift, so I felt bad for him,’’ Barr said.
Barr also invited the rookie to join him at linebacker Eric Kendricks’ home on Christmas. Several other veterans also were there.
“It was really cool,’’ Boyd said of Barr presenting him with the Louis Vuitton bag. “I have it posted on Instagram.’’
Boyd has played mostly on special teams this season and has been very effective as a gunner on the punt team. He’s played just 47 snaps on defense, but could be in for more work Sunday when the Vikings (10-5), locked into the No. 6 NFC spot, face Chicago (7-8) at U.S. Bank Stadium a regular-season finale with no playoff implications.
Early in the season, when Boyd wasn’t playing much, Barr talked to him about not getting down.
“I was just trying to keep him calm, understand you know your time is going to come,’’ Barr said. “I told him that you’re a guy who’s going to have a long career in this league and just be patient and enjoy the process.’’
Boyd appreciates the advice he has gotten from Barr. That’s why when a locker opened next to Barr’s in October, he moved from across the room.
“He actually told me not to move, but he was just joking,’’ Boyd said. “We just have a connection. Now that I’m next to him, we chop it up every day.
“If I ever have any questions, he’ll give me tips and information. He’s always telling me to keep my head up and always stay ready.’’
Sunday’s game could provide a good opportunity for Boyd. He anticipates getting some snaps on defense.
“That’s how it’s looking right now,’’ he said. “It would be cool.’’
The Vikings like Boyd’s potential. Defensive coordinator George Edwards said he has continued to get better in practice throughout the season.
“Kris has a lot of speed,’’ Edwards said. “He can get in and out of a cut. The big thing is that schematically, I think this is his first time through.’’
Special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf likes the aggressiveness Boyd has shown on special teams. He leads the unit in tackles.
On Dec. 8, Boyd had a big hit on Detroit’s Danny Amendola on a punt return. Barr was impressed with that play.
“I know the capability he has of being a good player in this league and just want to see him do well,’’ Barr said. “So I’ve got to stay on him.’’