‘You’ll See It This Fall:’ Derrick Barnes Earns Major Praise From Coach

Derrick Barnes

Getty Derrick Barnes taking selfies with Lions fans in 2021.

The Detroit Lions, it has been assumed, have a weakness at linebacker ahead of the 2022 season. That might not be the case at all if youngster Derrick Barnes has any say in how things turn out.

Barnes has been working hard and grinding this offseason to the delight of his coaching staff, specifically linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard, a former player in the league, knows what makes a successful linebacker, and already he sees those traits evident in the growth of Barnes from year one to year two.

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Discussing this development with the media on Monday, June 13, Sheppard seemed very encouraged by Barnes in his room. To say that’s good news for the Lions would be an understatement given what they are hoping to see out of their 2021 fourth-round pick on the field this year.

Detroit Lions Media Availability: June 13, 2022 | Kelvin SheppardWatch Detroit Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard speak to the media June 13, 2022. Subscribe to the Lions YT Channel: bit.ly/2OABzdx More Lions NFL Action: bit.ly/2oxtfjX #DetroitLions #Lions #NFL Keep up-to-date on all things Lions: Visit detroitlions.com/ Follow: twitter.com/Lions Follow: instagram.com/detroitlionsnfl/ Like: facebook.com/DetroitLions2022-06-13T21:44:01Z

“I’m even more excited about that player right now with having my hands on him for about two months now this offseason. He’s done everything and more I’ve asked. He’s completely bought in,” Sheppard said of Barnes. “A lot of people around the building say they see a new guy and you know, I see the guy that I always thought was there and it starts with the coach believing in the player to be able to pull out the most in a player. If you go into that with high optimism and high praise and thoughts on the player, the player feels that and in turn without knowing it, it’s kind of a mind game at the same time when with the coach-player dynamic.”

Sheppard seems to know the right buttons to push in order to get the most out of Barnes, and he seems to feel as if that’s going to be something that benefits the team during the 2022 season. His most glaring admission? Once Barnes has everything down-pat, he’s going to pop in a bigger way.

Sheppard: ‘Sky’s the Limit’ for Barnes

In terms of what his career may look like in the future, Sheppard is betting on Barnes being able to deliver for him in a big way. As he said, it’s about continuing to develop on the field and off as well as making sure all the factors are balanced. Athletically, though, there isn’t much of a doubt that Barnes can make a big imprint on the Lions very soon according to the coach.

“That guy man, the sky’s the limit for him. But he knows as well he hasn’t had a lot of off-ball experience so that’s just for me getting the molded clay and now I can make it into wherever I want,” Sheppard told the media. “In the same time, he has to go do it. I told him ‘I can’t talk to you through the headset all play to tell you what to do,’ but when Derek knows what to do, you’ll see it this fall. That player, there’s not many in the league with his stature, with his power, with the way he can run and hit (and he) can do what he can do once he knows exactly what to do.”

Getting Barnes to the point where he knows exactly what to do is a process that continues, but clearly, it’s a labor of love for Sheppard. At this point, based on his words, it seems it’s a labor that is set to pay off in a major way on the field for the Lions sooner rather than later with their young linebacker.

Lions Depending on Barnes for 2022

This is a good development for the Lions if Barnes is indeed chasing down a role in a dramatic way and showing signs of improvement to his coaching staff. If there was ever a player the Lions needed to step up for their future, Barnes would be it. Whether real or imagined, at this point, the team still has a weak link at linebacker according to many folks. Detroit has not added top veterans to the position, and has instead focused on young band-aid players like Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis. Adding Chris Board to the position was a free agency depth play for the Lions as well, but Barnes could still have the overall lead at the spot in terms of his upside for the team given his experience within the defense. His tape showed some definite hustle all year even as his stats were modest given 67 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended and 4 tackles for-loss.

Derrick Barnes 2021-2022 HighlightsI don't own the Music/Video/Pictures in this video Derrick Barnes 2021-2022 Detroit Lions Highlights Song is Bryson Tiller – Rambo2022-01-21T16:53:12Z

The Lions need Barnes to fill a major gap at the position into the future and become a solid contributor if not play a starring role for a needy defense. Sheppard thinks the time is coming soon for that to be the case, which is big news for the Lions in 2022.

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