Nick Barnett inching closer toward making preseason debut

Nick Barnett

Nick Barnett appears likely to make his preseason debut Saturday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Brought along at a gradual pace since signing with the Redskins on Aug. 1, 11th year inside linebacker Nick Barnett expected to take another step forward in his acclimation process when the team hit the practice field Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time since joining the team, Barnett will be charged with making the defensive calls from the ‘mike’ linebacker position behind London Fletcher. The development comes after Barnett last week practiced fully for the first time, lining up primarily at the ‘jack’ linebacker spot behind Perry Riley.

Barnett is well accustomed to the play-caller role, having handled those duties for the Green Bay Packers, who during his time there, ran a nearly identical system to the Redskins.

But Barnett spent the past two seasons in Buffalo playing outside linebacker, however, and needed to re-familiarize himself with inside linebacker. Barnett also had to work his way back into football shape after spending the offseason rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Wednesday’s development could serve as precursor to Barnett making his preseason debut. He practiced fully last week, serving primarily as Riley’s backup while Bryan Kehl played behind Fletcher. Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said prior to the Steelers game that he hoped that Barnett would be ready to play against Buffalo.

Now up to speed both in the areas of conditioning and terminology, Barnett looks forward to returning to the field and believes he can make an impact.

“If they let the lion off the chain, then I’ll be out there roaming the jungle,” he said before Wednesday’s practice.

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What’s ahead:

The Redskins practiced today at 1 p.m. Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III are speaking to reporters afterward.

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