Detroit Lions fans have wanted to see more from young linebacker Derrick Barnes almost since the beginning of training camp and the preseason, and now, they are finally going to see that play out.
This week, the Lions revealed they were prepared to ride it out with Barnes and move on from Jamie Collins, and while many may have wanted to see Barnes sooner, the rookie himself admitted that he was not upset whatsoever by sitting back and getting to learn from others ahead of him.
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Speaking to the media on Friday, September 24 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Barnes admitted that while others may have been frustrated by his lack of action early on, he was not given he understood the lay of the land when coming to the team as a rookie linebacker.
“I’m a rookie, I had a lot to learn, I had great veterans in front of me. I can’t really say it frustrated me that much because I knew, I had more to learn and had to develop. I believe I was ready to play but at the same time it was not my decision. I just put my head down and work, and whenever my time came, it would come and I’d get the job done,” Barnes said.
Now that Barnes is the next man up, however, he understands what has to be done and what role confidence could play for his own development as he continues to improve week to week.
“Confidence is key. I’m still building it. Not saying I don’t have it but you just grow in that aspect. Growing every day as a player,” he said.
With a bigger role now promised, Barnes will get a chance to grow rapidly, and will finally be able to play the bigger role that many have been looking for from the beginning.
Dan Campbell: Derrick Barnes Primed for Bigger Role
As a whole, the linebacker group played poorly against the Green Bay Packers, and were a big reason for the team’s eventual defeat on the field. As a result of that, the Lions are finally going to unleash one of their top rookies who hasn’t seen the field yet in Barnes.
Barnes was a topic of conversation for Lions fans on Monday night as the team’s defense struggled given the linebacker saw no snaps in the game. That has been the case for a few weeks now as the Lions attempted to get the defender back to health in the preseason, and as a result, could have held him out of the first few games of the regular season. That could change in a big way now, though, and Barnes could see the field starting in Week 3.
Speaking with the media on Monday, September 21, Campbell admitted that he thinks the youngster could now be primed to play a bigger role moving forward.
“I think Barnes deserves a shot,” Campbell told the media. “We’ll talk about it tonight, (Aaron Glenn) and I. We’ve been just game planning, just trying to get everything down because we got the players in tomorrow, but tonight we’re going to sit down and say ‘this is how we want to handle it.’ So I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself as to exactly what it’s going to look like yet.”
Regardless of what it looks like, many Lions fans will likely be rejoicing at the potential addition of Barnes to the mix, who is a defender with promise.
Barnes’ Stats and Highlights
What has been shown thus far is just what the Lions seemed to think they were getting in Barnes. Based on his track record from college, a pretty productive player. Barnes has been a productive player in the Big Ten, racking up 226 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in his college career. The numbers paint the picture of a tackling machine and a guy who can get after it in between the lines and make big plays for a defense sideline to sideline. The talent is clearly there.
Here’s a look at what the highlights show from college:
Will Barnes become a guy who turns himself into a player like either Junior Seau, Ray Lewis or another successful NFL linebacker, the ones he admitted in the past that he has studied? That remains to be seen, but it’s clear he understands how he wants to play the position when he comes to the league.
He also has the foresight to understand how things work, which is very important for a youngster.