Lions’ Derrick Barnes Reveals Key Lesson From Rookie Year

Derrick Barnes

Getty Derrick Barnes celebrates a play on the field for the Lions in 2021.

Improvement has been a big buzzword for the Detroit Lions this offseason, and the team has seen the majority of that on the defensive side of the ball.

The Lions are looking to take the next step as a team, and they have several players looking to make similar leaps. Linebacker Derrick Barnes is one of the players who could be seen to take the biggest jump.

Speaking to the media after practice on Thursday, August 4, Barnes discussed his rookie season on the field, and admitted that he feels better suited to make a difference this year given the experience he received in 2021.

“I didn’t play the whole thing. Just looking back at 10 times (I did), I would just say as the season continued, I continued to get better,” Barnes admitted. “Now it’s taking my game to the next level. I know I’m a way better player than I was last year and like I said, continue to strive and get better and you know be a big part of defense this year.”

Coming into the league can be a learning experience, and Barnes went through some things in 2021. As he said, it took being humbled a few times and understanding that the league is full of elite talent.

“People (are) a lot faster and a lot stronger. In college I could walk out on the field and say ‘I’m the strongest, fastest one of them.’ There’s a lot of good college football players also, and you get to the league and everybody’s just like (that). That just allows you to try to escalate your game to another level,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest lesson Barnes has learned? The game is mental in the league, and not always physical.

“This is not always about how physical you are, how fast you are. Now, it’s more mental. Obviously, keep those attributes but also mental is the key in NFL,” he explained.

It’s a wise mindset which shows just how far Barnes has managed to come in a short amount of time. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him chasing down a bigger role in 2022.

Barnes Credits Dan Campbell for Energy

This week, Dan Campbell shared the love for Barnes and his development, calling him. a player who has taken major leaps forward into his second year in the league.

For his part, Barnes payed the love forward to his coach. He said he believes Campbell has helped him get to that point of improvement, and he appreciates the help and leadership.

“I love that man. He thinks like a football player. That’s how we all have to think, the whole team. He motivates me every day and it’s just his passion and love for the game,” Barnes said. “Not only the game, but this team is important and guys feed off of it. We’re trusting Dan. We’re trusting these coaches, and that allows us to go out and do what we need to do to make them happy and help this team win.”

Obviously, the Lions coaches have reached Barnes in a big way. It’s why the start of his personal revolution may come next.

Barnes’ Stats & Highlights

Though it wasn’t massive production, what was shown by Barnes in 2021 was just what the Lions seemed to think they were getting with the linebacker.

Based on his track record from college, Barnes has production potential given his work in the Big Ten. With Purdue, he racked up 226 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. The numbers paint the picture of a tackling machine and a guy who can make big plays for a defense sideline to sideline. That talent only showed up more at in the NFL when he did see the field. He put up 67 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended and 4 tackles for-loss last year.

Here’s a look at what Barnes was able to do as a rookie:

Will Barnes become a guy who turns himself into a player that can stick as a successful NFL linebacker and make a major difference at the spot? It seems as if he is developing well in the offseason and has the right mind for the job.

Thus far, Barnes looks like he is locked in and ready to chase down a big role in 2022. That’s fantastic news for the Lions as their defense strives for more improvment.

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