LB Derrick Barnes, Lions rookie WR Derral Barnes eager to win first NFL shot against Lamar Jackson
ALLEN PARK -- In 2017, Derrick Barnes was a lightly-recruited high school running back out of Holy Cross High School in Covington, Kentucky. Purdue, on the other hand, liked him as a linebacker, and Barnes chose Boilermakers over Toledo.
Barnes didn't play in the season opener that year, as you may expect from a low-level recruit making alterations in his position. However, he went for the game, where elated a front-row seat for observing one of the country's most electrifying players, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Barnes is now headed for his first major NFL playing time against Jackson, when Detroit hosts the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Ford Field.
Barnes said, It's extremely exciting, after practice on Friday. You know, it's funny, he was (in) my first college football game. When he was at Louisville, Lucas Oil (Stadium), I was on the sideline, we played him. But I was able to defend myself when I colleged against him. You know, He's Lamar Jackson, you know?
Barnes' involvement in the playing rotation comes at a time when the Lions are irritated with Jamie Collins at inside linebacker. The club has chosen to sit Collins while seeking a trade for him, and will turn towards the future by transfering the position to Barnes and Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Barnes was acquired in the fourth round in a draft-day trade up the board. He missed a lot of the offseason program with an injury, but he subsequently settled in during training camp and became something of regarded as savage for his playmaking ability during relegation.
He opened the regular season on the bench on Monday night, playing just five snaps in the first half before playing none at all in his loss against the Packers. But the Lions' linebacker performance was terrible that night, with Collins and Alex Anzalone being beat every time Aaron Rodgers targeted them with a pass. Both allowed touchdowns, while Anzalone was flagged for a crucial defensive holding penalty that resulted in another score.
Despite Detroit's appreciation of Anzalone'' efforts, the same could not be said for Collins. The Lions have now placed Collins on the market and are really sinking their teeth into the rebuild by turning over the heart of their defense to Barnes and Reeves-Maybin.
Barnes stated, "It was shocking when I heard the news," "it was a shock." Jamie, an incredible player, Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion, deserves all credit for his outstanding talent. He's a great player, and I wish him all of the best of luck in whatever he'll have next. He was a huge role model to me, and he was an excellent mentor. I can't thank him enough. However, when they came to me and said it was my time, step up, I had to prepare better mentally. It's a change you give to the table at that point, not to say I wasn't playing, but it'll be based on your viewpoint.
It's just been getting in the film room a lot throughout the week, asking questions. It's something I'm doing, even before this time has come, but it'll be a different approach to the game, I would say. I'm prepared for the task, but I think I want to be prepared.
Barnes stated that he was pleased for the two weeks awaited for on the bench so that him could continue to settle into the defense and adjust to the speed and complexity of the NFL game.
I'm a rookie, I have tens of thousands to learn, he said. I have great veterans in front of me. Alex, Jamie, and those guys have taught me a lot. I'd go to them for questions and answers if they asked me. I can't say that it irritated me so much (to not play) because I knew I was a rookie, had more to learn, and needed to develop. Even though it appeared to be ready to play, I believe I was ready, but it was not my choice at the same time. I simply put my head down and work because I don't make decisions about what's going on upstairs or with the coaching staff. Thats always been what I spent my entire life doing, is put my head down and work. When my time came, it would come and I'd finish the job.
Now appears that time has come -- and it has just come to him for Lamar Jackson to be seen again. Jackson racked up 485 yards of total offense and threw for two touchdowns in a return win against Purdue, which Jackson first saw in that season opener in 2017.
Barnes said, "It was me and three other linebackers I played with in college sitting on the sidelines watching this guy, and it was everything you've seen on internet," he added. He came to the sidelines, and he's gone from there.
Jackson has gone on to accomplish even more in the NFL, where he became the youngest MVP in league history. Barnes will now be the first player to lead the NFL's top-ranked rushing attack in Detroit on Sunday, whereas Barnes is one of the key players tasked with rescuing him in his first significant NFL playing time.
What the coaching staff has been preaching to me is confidence, confidence," Barnes said. You know you're a rookie, so it's one of those things to where I would say the most important aspect is that you don't want to mess up. I believe that every rookie's mind is broken. I want to do everything right, which I think gets stuck in. You'll make mistakes at the end of the day. You're young, you'll be maturing, there are people above you who have played a lot more football than you have, they've got progressively better knowledge of the game, and that's just something you develop.
As of now, it's simply treating everything like a professional -- studying more, watching film on your own, and asking questions. When I first came here, I believe I had a significant problem asking questions. It wasn't that I was agitated to ask questions, it was simply that my effort to listen wasnt as good. I didn't have time to spend. However, asking questions really helped me. As previously stated, the importance of confidence is the key. I'm building it, and I firmly believe that I am building. I don't say I won'' t have it, but you're growing in that area. As a player, Im simply growing every day.
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