After two seasons with the Detroit Lions, linebacker Derrick Barnes could face a battle this offseason if he’s going to stay for a third.
The 2021 draft pick could be fighting for a spot on the final roster after the team made some key additions at linebacker, wrote Christian Booher of SI.com’s All Lions.
“It might be too early to tell exactly who is on the roster bubble, but a number of players are facing key offseason,” Booher wrote. “With the Lions’ flurry of offseason moves, players at important positions will be battling for spots. Linebacker Derrick Barnes, safety Ifeatu Melifonwu and running back Craig Reynolds are among the players who have gained highly touted teammates at their positions.”
Lions Added to Linebacking Corps This Offseason
Barnes came to the Lions as a fourth-round draft pick in 2021, appearing in all 17 games and starting six in his rookie season and making a total of 67 tackles with two sacks. Barnes saw his production and playing time drop last year, appearing in 15 games with four starts while making 47 tackles with one sack.
Barnes did have some standout performances, including the team’s Week 9 win over the Green Bay Packers when he made a team-high 12 tackles and a sack of Aaron Rodgers.
But Barnes could be in trouble after the Lions put considerable effort into improving their linebacking corps this offseason, using a first-round draft pick on linebacker Jack Campbell.
Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard raved about Campbell’s abilities, saying the Iowa standout won the team over during interviews at the pre-draft combine.
“It was just exceptional. His knowledge of the game speaks for itself and shows on the tape,” Sheppard said. “But it’s the passion and I don’t know if people are quite ready for it. He was literally just crying in tears. I’m still fired up about it. Just fired up for the opportunity to coach a player of that caliber.”
The Lions also made some other moves to bolster the position, re-signing linebacker Alex Anzalone and bringing back Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who was named a team captain in the 2021 season before signing with the Houston Texans in 2022.
Lions Linebacker Ready to Prove Himself
Barnes appears up for the challenge he may face this summer, telling reporters that he has been working on the mental aspect of his game through the offseason.
“You know, I came from college, and I wasn’t at the mental aspect that I wanted to be at,” Barnes said, via SI.com’s All Lions. “And, that’s just where I come from, no excuses or anything. I studied my behind off, and I knew it would take me time to get where I wanted to be. And, I’m just, I told myself to keep aggressive, you know, head down, keep working no matter what obstacles have been thrown at you. Just come out here and work, and prove not only to other people, but (to) yourself what you can do. Because I know what my ability is and I know what I can do.”
Barnes said he’s been “studying even more than I ever have” and is eager to prove himself.
“You know, asking questions, and all the things I’ve done in previous years,” he said. “But, just taking it to the next level, and just coming out here and showing everyone what I can do and what I’m able to do and what I’m about as a player.”