(photo by Brian Murphy)
Last season was a quiet one for Washington Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes. As a rookie, he only saw limited action – appearing in only four games while playing primarily on special teams.
Unfortunately, the most memorable play from his inaugural season was when a shanked punt by New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead bounced off of Barnes allowing the Saints to recover the ball and regain possession in a game the Redskins blew 33-30.
One might think that spending the bulk of the season riding the bench would have jaded Barnes, but that’s not the case. Instead, it simply motivated the 23-year-old to spend even more time and energy in pursuit of becoming the cornerback the Redskins envisioned when they drafted Barnes in the third round of the 2009 draft.
We caught up with the second-year cornerback during the team’s most recent minicamp to see how things are coming along.
Welcome back, man. It’s good to see you again.
“Appreciate it, man,” Barnes said. “Appreciate it. A lot of people are gone, but I’m still here … so far.”
You mentioned how much has changed within the organization this offseason. What’s the biggest difference with you since last season?
“I’d say added responsibility,” he said. “Last year, I felt like a lot of guys and coaches were playing for their jobs, so I wouldn’t expect them to play me a lot as a rookie when their jobs were on the line. I understood and respected that. Now, I’m in a defense that I’m very familiar with, because it’s like what we ran in college. I’m ready to go out there and start making plays, man.”
The most consistent message we’re hearing from the new regime is that they want a competition at every position. If you play well, then they’re going to reward you. Is that what they’ve said to you?
“Yeah, I’m two behind D-Hall [cornerback DeAngelo Hall] right now,” Barnes said. “I’m getting a lot of playing time with the ones and the twos right now. But regardless of who you line up with, they’re giving everyone plenty of looks – switching us around from practice to practice. The best thing we can do is go out there and get the job done. If we show them we can do that, then if someone goes down with an injury during the season, someone else will be able to step in right away.”
You played at the University of Maryland, so you’re from this area. Every year, Redskins fans talk themselves into believing “This is the year,” and more times than not, we end up disappointed. Tell us why we should believe this is the year the Redskins turn this thing around.
“I mean, if you’re a true fan, you should believe anyway,” he said. “But honestly, we’re under the radar right now. a lot of people don’t expect much from us based on our 4-12 season last year. But if you look at the games we lost last year, how many times did we get blown out? We were in every game until the very end.
“Coach Shanahan and his staff have come in with a great scheme offensively and defensively,” he continued. “That’s going to make a difference. People are going to be surprised when we take the field for that first game against the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t want to say too much, but our true fans are going to be rewarded for sticking with us.”