August 25, 2009

Barnes ready for new challenges at wolf

A few weeks ago, it looked like Anthony Barnes was a man without a position, but defensive coordinator Dave Wommack made some adjustments sliding Cooper Taylor out of his wolf position that opened the door for bigger linebacker types like Barnes to get increased reps at the wolf. Jacketsonline caught up with Barnes to see how he fits into the wolf position and what the rotation and plans are for the position this year.

How is your leg doing after you took some time off in the early part of fall camp?

"My injury wasn't really an injury, but more of a nick and bruise to the same area where I broke my fibula and the tibia side is starting to act up. The was a lot of soreness because I have been going since I broke it, but it is going away and it is feeling a lot better."

How are you fitting into the wolf position after Cooper Taylor moved back to free safety?

"I am the biggest wolf we got, so I have to come in and run with the big boys and some of the receivers. The coaches have put more emphasis on me being able to play both the pass and the run."

Did you slim down to get ready for that role?

"I have slimmed down a lot and I lost a lot of body fat. Last year I was about 240 pounds and I am down to 230 this year. I have gotten a lot quicker and faster. Now I just work on covering receivers and stuff like that while at the same time being able to still come down into the box."

Are you excited about getting a bigger role with the reshuffling of the wolf position?

"Anytime you get a chance to make plays it is great. The wolf is a position made to make plays because you are involved in the run and the pass. The wolf is like the key position on the team right now and I am happy about the situation and being able to make plays."

How does the rotation work at the wolf?

"There are four us, two huskies, Dominique Reese and Rashaad Reid and there are two wolves, Mario Edwards and myself. It is the same position, but the huskies are more pass oriented. If it is a passing only practice we don't get a lot of reps, but when it is a running situation Mario and I get all the reps. We have to bang with the big boys."

So in the first game would you and Mario be the main guys?

"We will be in there a little bit more because they have a lot of 21 and 22 or 12 personnel, so we have to bang with the tight ends. On the passing downs we will swap out and let the huskies do their thing."

What was the biggest thing you work on during the offseason?

"I started working on the weight thing around the LSU game. I saw how I needed to get my weight down. They told me about the change that may be coming to the defense, so I started then. I changed my whole diet and started working out harder. That was the biggest thing. The wolf is basically the same position that I played last year, but there is a bigger emphasis on being able to cover receivers. I worked on that to get quicker, so I am able to cover receivers."

Did you get a little worried when the coaches told you about the wolf and their plans for it?

"I was not worried about it too much because I am the biggest guy, so you cannot just throw those little guys in there because they will start picking on them. I knew I had a role in the system in certain situations and I knew that I needed to get better at covering people like they are. That is their thing, so I need to try to be able to do that a little better."

With the job split in half essentially, does that allow you to play up to your strengths?

"My biggest thing is playing the run and I hate going against this option. Our coaches know I am not an option-coverage type player, so my big thing is banging with the big boys and getting down and dirty. I am loving that we are turning the page so I can go against regular style offenses."

What is the biggest thing you and Mario need to work to get ready for the season?

"We need to be able to adjust better. Sometimes you have to adjust to receivers and sometimes you come inside on a tight end. Recognizing the formations is the biggest thing."

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