ASHBURN, Va. -- Nick Barnett is a lot like the guy ahead of him in the lineup. He started every game he played for the first 10 years of his NFL career. Now the veteran linebacker is a pinch hitter -- and it’s taking some adjustment.
Barnett played eight snaps for London Fletcher, not knowing if or when he would enter the game. The coaches discussed this with Fletcher, leaving the call up to him. On two different series Fletcher told Barnett to play.
“I don’t know exactly how many I’ll go or [when] I’ll come out,” Barnett said. “I’m just out there trying to get to the rock.”
It’s a difficult role for a player used to so much action.
“There are some things I’m struggling with internally with that,” Barnett said. “But for me it’s do whatever I can to help this defense and this team. It’s not the ideal situation I’d like to be in. I like to play football and this is where I’m at and I’ll continue to grind and increase my role and try to have fun out there.”
The Redskins signed Barnett during training camp after second-year linebacker Keenan Robinson was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Barnett was dealing with his own injury situation, having undergone offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. But he had played all 32 games the previous two seasons with Buffalo.
Barnett did say that it’s not hard for him to get into the flow of the game in this role. During the game when the defense comes off the field Barnett will meet with Fletcher and the others and pick their brains.
“I try to stay in the game in case something does happen,” Barnett said, “If I have to be in there the rest of the game I try to stay alert and stay in the flow.”
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said, "Nick is still in the learning process of the scheme, but he brings energy. I don't know if [his role] will expand .... We have enough guys that are good players and can go in and there's not a big drop-off."