photo by Brian Murphy
In what is quickly becoming a weekly segment at this point, we found ourselves standing in front of Washington Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes in the locker room after the 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots Friday night.
You may remember it was just a week ago that Barnes said he made such a good read on an otherwise ordinary play that he was going to go home and dream about it that night. We could only guess what his reaction would be after the rookie recorded his first NFL interception.
“Coach put us in a great situation,” he said. “Playing two-man, and basically, my job is to be between the quarterback and the receiver. The receiver ran this funky route – an out, up and comeback – I had a safety over top, so I just stayed underneath the play. The receiver broke, the quarterback threw it and I just snuck in underneath.”
Be honest, how good did it feel to get the interception?
“It felt good, but I was kind of too excited,” Barnes said. “I ran down the sideline another 20 or 30 yards, then I ran back inbounds and spun the ball. They say you’re supposed to keep the ball, but I don’t even know where it’s at now.
You said a week ago that cornerbacks like yourself enjoy the spotlight. You keep making plays like that and people are going to notice …
“I mean, I’m a hometown guy, so I gotta make the hometown fans happy, you know,” he said. “I promise you, the more opportunities I get, the more plays I’m gonna make.”
What did the guys say to you on the sidelines after the play?
“They told me I should have scored,” Barnes said. “They were just picking on me a little bit, but everybody congratulated me on my first pick.”
How long are you allowed to enjoy this moment?
“For the night, I guess,” he said. “We get back to work on Sundays, so then it’s time for Jacksonville. This next week is really the big test because us young guys are going to have to play to win the game. The older guys aren’t playing, so that’s gonna be a real test.”
How’s your confidence these days?
“I mean, my confidence is always high,” Barnes said. “But it doesn’t really mean anything because now this game is over and I have to go out and prove it again next week.”
Was this your biggest test you’ve faced at the NFL level?
“Not to say anything bad against the last two teams we’ve played,” he said. “But I felt the Ravens, maybe because it was my first game, were the toughest and most physical team we’ve played so far. But I did idolize Randy Moss growing up, so seeing him in pregame warm-ups catching the ball with one hand and everything, it kind of hit me like, ‘This is real. This is my life now.’”
And while Barnes admits he’s still adjusting to his new career, his teammates say he’s beginning to make a name for himself on the field.
“Every week I can see he’s developing and he’s getting better,” said safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. “That’s what they want to see from these young guys – every week they want to see development. He could definitely be a player in this league. Obviously there’s still some stuff he knows he needs to get done. He’s got to start learning splits and things like that, and understand how receivers are trying to set him up. But once he gets a handle on that, he’s going to be alright.”
Game 1: Get on the field and don’t embarrass yourself. Check.
Game 2: Make a play worth dreaming about. Check.
Game 3: Pick off your first NFL pass. Check.
Game 4: If you get your hands on the ball again, for the love of god, don’t lose it celebrating.