One of the younger players that the Washington Redskins are counting on this season is third-year cornerback Kevin Barnes, who has seen his role with the team change drastically in the last year.
Drafted in the third round out of Maryland two years ago, Barnes rarely played as a rookie, and last season appeared in 10 games, but was used primarily as a backup safety when that unit was decimated by injury.
This season, Barnes is the team’s third cornerback behind DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. With the team running a lot of “Nickel” packages, he finds himself on the field for the bulk of Washington’s defensive plays.
Last week Barnes recorded his first interception of the season, which equals his total for last year.
In today’s Gameday Q&A, the local product talks about his growth, goals, roots and hobbies:
You got your first interception of the season last week. How good did it feel to get that first pick?
“It definitely felt good. I wish I could’ve gotten some return yards, but I didn’t feel comfortable as far as the footing and I couldn’t really maneuver my body. But any time a DB gets his hands on the ball, it’s a good feeling and hopefully more come my way.
How different are things for you this year as opposed to the last two seasons, when you were just hoping to be active?
“I’m definitely embracing it. First two years here I played some, but definitely a humbling experience. I definitely love the game now more than ever. [Not playing] was kind of taking away from it, but I definitely appreciate my coaches having confidence in me.”
What did you expect of yourself when the season began?
“I thought I could’ve had a little more responsibility had things turned out differently -- being with the coaches all offseason – but I’m happy with the way things are going right now, and as long as I can help my team win, I’m satisfied.”
Obviously, you want to win, but have you set any individual goals for yourself?
“I haven’t really set any individual goals, but I want to go out every game and I don’t want anybody to catch a pass on me. That’s the only goal really. I can remember every pass from preseason to now and that’s the thing I hate, regardless of how long or short. I just hate having a pass caught on me.”
How do you like having another former Terp, Josh Wilson, in the secondary with you?
“It’s real cool. There are times where we’ll be on the sidelines, talking, reminiscing about old stories. We’re all real close.”
Do you like Maryland’s new uniforms?
“Definitely. My freshman class was the first to wear UnderArmour at Maryland, and they’ve been talking for years about different uniforms and different colors, but it’s definitely going to help recruiting. Simple stuff like that can convince a kid to go to a school. Because me, I liked Maryland, but also my favorite colors were black and red. I remember when I went on my visit, I tried on a jersey, had my name on the back, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m definitely coming here.’ So, I see what they’re doing with that.”
What is that like playing so close to where you played high school?
“Sometimes, it’s still a dream. I feel like I’m spoiled to a certain extent. I saw an interview that Hightower did a little bit ago and he said he couldn’t imagine going from college to being drafted to here because he probably couldn’t have handled it. But me, I really haven’t left. I grew up in North Carolina for a little bit, but high school in Maryland, college in Maryland, and our stadium is in Maryland. I haven’t really had the chance to go anywhere, so I’m pretty spoiled right now.”
Because of that, do you do a lot of off-season traveling?
“I go up and down the East Coast. I’m an East Coast kind of guy. I go to New York a little bit, go down to Florida, see my family in North Carolina, go up to Rhode Island, where my fiancé is, but I’m pretty much an East Coast guy.”
What are your hobbies?
“I’m an avid gamer, I like music. I want to start deejaying, getting some equipment. Music, no matter what happens -- bad day, good day -- music can make me feel good. I love music, video games, just relaxing with my family.”
Who’s your favorite artist?
“Jay-Z’s my favorite rapper, but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff, familiarizing myself with the past.”
Do you do a lot of mixing?
“For my birthday last year, my fiancé bought me a set of turntables, and now my music is up to – I don’t know how many songs I have – but I know my hard drive takes about 15 hours for my music to load. So I have a lot of songs. I’m always on the iPod and doing a mix for in here [in the locker room], so guys know what I have.”
Do you have a special pre-game track?
“Pre-game track, it varies from week to week. Hotel the night before the game, I’ll download some music and come up with something I know the guys will want to listen to before the game. Not a certain song, because I put so much on it every week that I make a different play list every week.”