During his rookie season with the Lions, Barnes' transition from college to the National Football League was not easy, and to be honest, he looked completely lost at times.
“He came into this year raw, and I mean raw,” linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said, bluntly adding, “Ball goes right, he goes left.”
Back at the start of training camp, Lions head coach Dan Campbell made it very clear that if the second-year players on the team did not step up, they would be in trouble.
“I mean, we’re counting on it,” Campbell said. “We got to have it. I mean if they don’t make a jump, we’re in trouble. That’s the bottom line, cause those guys are kind of our core and our foundation.”
During that presser, Campbell specifically noted that players like Barnes and Levi Onwuzurike have “to be better” in 2022.
“If they’re not, we’re not going to go anywhere,” Campbell said. “So we’re looking forward to it and we’re going to push them to be there and get there.”
Detroit Lions coach issues Derrick Barnes ‘warning' for rest of NFL
But Derrick Barnes knows his rookie season was behind him and during a recent interview, he said the game has “definitely slowed down” for him as he heads into Year 2 of his career.
“The game has just definitely slowed down for me this year,” Barnes said on Thursday. “That’s a big thing for coach Shep (Sheppard) because I’ve set up in his office and he went through a few offenses to help me develop that. Help me develop that ‘mental linebacker’ that knows the game and knows what to do.”
Barnes added that this past week (the Lions had joint practices and a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts) was one of his best.
“It was honestly one of the best weeks for me—during camp-wise—going against an opposing team and not just your guys,” Barnes continued.
Kelvin Sheppard certainly agrees with Barnes and he issued a warning for the rest of the league.
“Derrick Barnes is coming, and that’s a real thing,” Sheppard said. “That player is a very explosive, very violent, very strong linebacker.”
Nation, do you think Derrick Barnes is on his way to becoming a solid NFL linebacker or is this just a coach talking up his player as many do during training camp?