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Incoming CB Kalon Barnes claims title as Vikings’ fastest player

That claim had belonged to wide receiver Jalen Nailor.

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Carolina Panthers cornerback Kalon Barnes walks to practice during rookie mini-camp in Charlotte, North Carolina, earlier this year. Minnesota has claimed Barnes off the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins.
Alex Slitz / TNS file photo
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EAGAN, Minn. -- When cornerback Kalon Barnes joined the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday, fellow rookie Jalen Nailor walked up to him in the locker room and offered a concession speech.

Nailor, a wide receiver whose nickname is “Speedy,” had declared in August he was the fastest player on the Vikings. But he apparently has handed over the title to Barnes.

“He came over and said, ‘You got it. I had it,’’’ Barnes said. “He said that nobody else is faster than me.”

There’s little doubt Barnes is now the fastest player on the Vikings after he was plucked off Miami’s practice squad and signed to the 53-man roster. He has run the 100-meter dash in 9.98 seconds, although it was adjusted to a wind-aided 10.04. Coming out of Baylor earlier this year, Barnes ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.23 seconds, the second-fastest combine time since 2002.

“I’m very fast,’’ Barnes said.

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Barnes, a seventh-round pick by Carolina who was waived just before the start of the season and signed to the Dolphins’ practice squad, will provide depth for the Vikings entering Saturday’s game against Indianapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium. They have had many injuries at cornerback, including rookie Andrew Booth Jr., who is out of the season with a knee injury, and rookie Akayleb Evans (concussion), both now on injured reserve.

The Vikings on Wednesday also signed linebacker William Kwenkue off their practice squad to the active roster, placed tackle Blake Brandel on injured reserve with a knee injury and signed veteran defensive lineman Sheldon Day to the practice squad. And they had quarterback David Blough plucked off their practice squad to join Arizona’s active roster.

Kwenkue, an undrafted rookie from Temple, had been on Minnesota’s practice squad all season. Brandel was hurt in last Sunday’s 34-23 loss at Detroit and was ruled out Monday for at least the rest of the regular season with a torn medial collateral ligament. Day is in his seventh NFL season, and has played for Jacksonville, San Francisco, Indianapolis and Cleveland.

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Blough, who played for Detroit from 2019-21, joined Minnesota’s practice squad before the season. He replaces on the Cardinals’ roster quarterback Kyler Murray, who was put on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending torn ACL injury Monday night against New England.

“You could see it in practice that he’s very talented and he’ll do well, and I’m happy for him to have an opportunity,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said of Blough’s departure.

Barnes came to Minnesota for a visit with the Vikings before the draft. He returned on Tuesday night, had a physical Wednesday morning and then took part in practice.

“It’s a blessing,’’ he said of signing. “I’ve been waiting on this all year.”

As a track star, Barnes was offered $100,000 to go pro after graduating from Silsbee (Texas) High School. But he chose to attend Baylor with his goal to make the NFL.

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“I want to show people now I’m more than just fast, that I can bring to the table more than just speed,’’ Barnes said. “Being on (Miami’s) practice squad, I got way better and I really bettered myself technique-wise.”

Jefferson nears record

Justin Jefferson, who has 1,500 yards receiving, needs 133 Saturday to break Randy Moss’ 2003 single-season record of 1,632.

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Justin Jefferson

“To be this close at this moment of the season is definitely something I’m grateful for, with (head coach Kevin O’Connell) coming into the building with this type offense (and quarterback) Kirk (Cousins) giving me the different opportunities he has been all year,” said Jefferson, who also mentioned other players on offense. “So, it’s been more than just me.”

Jefferson is second in Pro Bowl Games fan voting behind Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and said, “I got to get back in the first place.” He had been first in early voting.

Injury report

Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (back) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday. However, cornerback Cameron Dantzler was out for a second straight day with an illness.

The Vikings also listed as limited edge rusher Danielle Hunter (neck), Thielen (veteran rest day), center Garrett Bradbury (back) and defensive lineman James Lynch. Hunter, who missed the entire 2020 season due to neck surgery, was not on Tuesday’s injury report.

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