Third-year cornerback Kevin Barnes has a new number and, as expected, an increased role in the Washington Redskins’ defense this season.
Used sparingly for much of last season and then given an opportunity down the stretch when defensive backs started dropping like flies, the former Maryland Terrapin now finds himself in a very different situation.
For the first week of camp, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Barnes has lined up as the starting cornerback opposite 2011 Pro Bowl MVP DeAngelo Hall. On Friday, free agent addition Josh Wilson received the green light to practice and took over as the No. 2 corner. But Barnes, who on Thursday switched his jersey number from 25 to 22, continued to see extensive action as the first nickel corner.
Given that most teams run three receiver sets, Barnes figures that even if he doesn’t start, he will be on the field often and have frequent opportunities to make plays.
“I’m the first nickel right now, and I just want to keep working and try to help the team as much as I can,” Barnes said. “And no one’s roles have been totally defined, so you never know what can happen. I’m just going to keep doing what I can.”
Barnes decided to switch numbers after former Redskin Carlos Rogers signed with Oakland on Wednesday, freeing up number 22. It allowed Barnes to go back to his roots.
“I wore 2 in college and two’s always been my favorite number,” said Barnes, who in 10 games last season recorded 17 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception. “And Carlos is my homeboy, so I want to represent for him.”