After not seeing a snap on defense in the Redskins’ first two games, veteran linebacker Nick Barnett lined up for eight plays against the Lions.
Such a small amount of playing time rarely is worth mentioning. Except that Barnett was stepping in for defensive captain London Fletcher, who, on Sunday, can pass Bill Romanowski for most consecutive games by a defensive player.
“I think that was kind of the idea when I came here—kind of go in and rotate and let him get out a little bit so he can come back fresh,” Barnett said of Fletcher on Thursday. “I’m just here to spell him. If that role increases, or the number of plays increases, it increases.”
Asked why he didn’t play in Weeks 1 or 2, Barnett said it was part of the plan.
“Being so early in the season, London wanted to be in there more and get guys organized and be that on-the-field leader,” Barnett said. “As he got comfortable with me going in, as well as the coaches got comfortable with me going in, and us not losing a step, that kind of allowed me to get in a little bit.”
Barnett recorded two tackles in eight plays against the Lions. The 38-year-old Fletcher, meantime, had his best game of the season, notching a sack, eight tackles, including two for loss.
“You get off [the field] for a series or two, it allows you to be that much fresher,” Barnett said. “Especially with the way that these games are going and the teams that we’re facing with no huddle [offenses]. It’s a key thing to have.”
He added: Fletcher “did feel fresher. …He was running around a lot more. I don’t know if that was a direct [correlation] to him getting those reps off, but I think it helped.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said he was pleased with Barnett’s play.
“I thought Nick played pretty well,” Haslett said. “Nick is still in the learning process of the scheme but he brings energy. He loves football. He runs around. He truly is a love-of-the-game player. He’s into football. I don’t know if [his role] will expand. [But] If somebody gets tired we tell our guys, ‘If you can’t go 100 miles an hour all day, take yourself out and we’ll put somebody [else] in.”