Rookie Derrick Barnes on coach Dan Campbell's mind as starting linebackers struggle
Green Bay, Wis. — Everything isn't always what it seems when you're taking in a football game live, but the Detroit Lions starting linebacker tandem of Jamie Collins and Alex Anzalone appeared to be struggling mightily in Monday's 35-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Both are trusted veterans who have a lot of experience, plus Anzalone was selected a captain by his teammates ahead of the season, but if the film confirms they had subpar performances, there will be growing calls for the team to work rookie Derrick Barnes into the mix.
"Look, let me watch the tape," Lions coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "Certainly there are some plays in there where we want those guys to come downhill, we need to see them come downhill. Instead of playing laterally, play more downhill than laterally.
"... Look Barnes has been on our mind, because he showed in the preseason he will run and hit," Campbell continued. "And so, yeah, we're going to be looking at everything. We're going to be looking at receivers, we're going to be looking at our 'backers, we're going to be looking at everybody. Anybody we think can help us, and we need to get a look at, we'll take a look at."
The Lions traded up in the fourth round to snag Barnes in April's draft, but a hamstring injury limited him for a significant chunk of the offseason. When the Lions finally started working him into the preseason rotation, he flashed in all aspects of the position, particularly in coverage, where he broke up two throws.
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In the season opener a week ago, Barnes was an afterthought behind the veteran starters, netting only five snaps after Collins suffered an ankle injury late in the game. Heading into a Week 3 matchup against Baltimore, the rookie could be in line for a larger role.