Barnes wants shot at starting CB job

After finishing the 2010 NFL season on a strong note, and with Carlos Rogers a free agent, Kevin Barnes has his eye on the Washington Redskins’ starting cornerback spot opposite DeAngelo Hall.

The Redskins are expected to be one of the teams in pursuit of Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency, but Barnes believes that he is capable of filling the void for Washington.

“Definitely,” Barnes said last week. “If I can come out and prove I can be out there with DeAngelo, O.J. and LaRon, I think we can have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.”

Drafted as a cornerback in the third round out of Maryland in 2009, Barnes appeared in only four games as a rookie, but last season was used more extensively (he played in 10 games) in Washington’s injury-riddled secondary.

When asked about the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Barnes last season, defensive coordinate Jim Haslett said he had all the tools to be an impact player and described him as one of the smartest players on the defense.

Out of necessity, Barnes was used primarily as a safety. This year, however, with Washington having acquired free safety O.J. Atogwe and drafted Nebraska’s DeJon Gomes, Barnes figures to be used almost exclusively as a corner. He said he doesn’t mind toggling back and forth.

“I feel comfortable [in] both spots,” said Barnes, who last season recorded 17 tackles and five pass breakups after working his way onto the field. “It’s all about knowing where the offense is trying to attack you. But I feel comfortable [in] both spots.”

If given the opportunity, Barnes believes he can offer production similar to the stats he posted in the final two weeks of last season, when he recorded seven tackles, an interception and four pass breakups in two starts.

“Knowing [the coaches] have some confidence in me, my intelligence and what I did at the end of the season, it helps me have confidence going into this year,” said Barnes, who also noted that his size is a plus. “You see the receivers that were drafted this year, A.J. Green and Julio Jones; receivers are getting bigger and bigger each year, so you also have a need for bigger corners. I’m one of those corners and feel like I have a lot of value.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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