Barnett bolsters Skins' defense
RICHMOND – Linebacker Nick Barnett was signed by the Redskins Wednesday night to provide some depth at inside linebacker.
But don’t tell Barnett that he's being penciled in as a backup to London Fletcher or even Perry Riley.
“I’m not going to say it’s an open competition,” Barnett said during his introductory news conference Thursday. “But I still haven’t settled on a backup role just yet. If that role comes about, then that’s the role I’ll take. But I’m going to go out there to try to push London. I’m going to try to push Riley. I’m going to go out there to try to push them as much as I can and see what happens.”
Barnett, 32, has averaged more than 102 tackles a season during a 10-year career with the Packers and Bills. But after offseason surgery on his right knee “to get it cleaned and fixed up” Barnett wasn’t exactly a hot commodity on the free agent market.
Then the Redskins lost second-year linebacker Keenan Robinson to a torn pectoral muscle that will require surgery and several months of rehab. That created an opening behind Fletcher at the ‘Mike’ linebacker position.
So the Redskins called Barnett. And after he worked out in Richmond on Monday and Tuesday, the Redskins' coaches decided that Barnett’s knee was healthy and his skill set was a good fit.
Barnett agreed, knowing that he was familiar with the scheme from his time in Green Bay. Redskins linebackers coach Bob Slowik was the Packers’ defensive coordinator for a season while Barnett played there.
“I think we’re the best fit for each other," Barnett said. "It’s almost like if you spoke Spanish for two years and then you stop speaking and then you go back and, you go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember those words.' It’s basically the same terminology. There are some different things. They handle the slot different or the backside of Cover 2, things like that. But probably 90-percent of the terminology is the same.”
Barnett did not participate in the morning walkthrough Thursday, although he was on the sideline wearing No. 90. It’s unclear if he’ll participate in the afternoon practice session.
“That’s up to them,” he said, asked when he expects to participate in team drills. “As they see me get [into] football shape, then I’ll be out there. There’s no medical stipulation right now; there’s not a three-week or four-week plan. It’s just whenever they feel comfortable putting me out there, then we’ll go.”