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Nick Barnett: 'No More 6-10 Seasons'

Posted Aug 1, 2013

New Redskins LB Nick Barnett said he waited for the opportunity to sign with a contender this offseason and is willing to fill any role the Redskins need him to fill.

New Washington Redskins linebacker Nick Barnett is a former All-Pro, Super Bowl Champion and NFC season tackles leader.

For his career, he has started all 139 games in which he appeared and has not missed a game since 2010.

He registered more than 100 tackles in a contract year with the Buffalo Bills last year, but took his time signing this offseason, waiting for what he referred to as "the right fit."

When reserve linebacker Keenan Robinson went down with a torn pectoral last week, Barnett felt like that perfect opportunity had been found.

"Looking at the coaching staff with [Defensive Coordinator Jim] Haslett and Slow [Linebackers Coach Bob Slowik] – I played with him in Green Bay – I think it was a very good fit,' he told the media this morning. "[They're] running a similar scheme to what we had in Green Bay two years ago when I was there.

"I thought it would be fairly easy to pick up. Probably 90 percent of the terminology is the same. I think we are the best fit for each other, so [I’m] happy to be the best fit."

Barnett acknowledged that the Redskins have four strong starting linebackers and would rather be part of a successful group than the star of weak unit.

"The linebackers we have here now with London Fletcher and [Perry] Riley, we’ve got a talented bunch. Hopefully, my goal is to get on the field somehow and some way," he said. "It was a couple of teams I talked to earlier in this free agency, but just not the right fit. I don’t want no more 6-10 seasons. I want to go to a winning team."

Barnett described the Redskins as an "up and coming" team after their NFC East Championship last season, and said that success was enough to turn around the team's perception in one dramatic season.

"Winning. You [saw] the way [the Redskins] played during the homestretch and towards the end of the season they started to come together," he said. "Who knows how far they could have went if RG [Robert Griffin III] didn’t get hurt.

"This team could be good for years to come. I have a one-year deal but I’m hoping to earn some more years here and that’s my whole goal is to be here for longer.”

He also cited the opportunity to play alongside London Fletcher as a major attraction.

“[Fletcher] is definitely a good teacher," Barnett said. "In my younger days when I got to the league, I always looked up to vets and sometimes those vets do not want to teach you. He is one of those guys I have always looked up to as a player being one of the undersized linebackers and seeing the way he plays, his tenacity, his relentless pursuit, his consistency as a linebacker.

"He knows the defense inside out. It’s definitely great to have a player like that you can bounce that off of."

Barnett will have an opportunity to work closely with Fletcher, as he said he is currently penciled in behind Fletcher inside. But if necessary, Barnett is comfortable at either inside linebacker position.

"Anything can happen. I can play both positions – I played the Will – I don’t know what we call it here – the Dime and the Nickel and I’ll be playing the Mike here," he said. "I think they’re all interchangeable. Whatever happens, I’m down for a move or whatever. I’m definitely there."

Barnett admitted that it was a strange offseason not knowing where he was going after he had his knee "cleaned up" with an arthroscopic procedure and being released by the Buffalo Bills.

"This year it was almost like the lockout year where you had to wait all the way until training camp started before free agents started getting picked up," he said. "Am I surprised? I don’t know. I’m just happy that I did get picked up now at this point."

While Barnett said he is comfortable in a reserve role for the first time in his career, he won't be ceding anything to the starters in the middle.

“I’m not going to say it’s open competition, but I still haven’t settled on a backup role just yet. And if that role comes about, than that’s the role I’ll take," he said. "I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to push London [Fletcher], I’m going to try to push [Perry] Riley.

"T'hat’s what it’s all about. It’s competition, and I think with that you get better. So I’m going out there to try to push them as much as I can and see what happens. Either way, we’ll have three, or four, or five – all the guys – we’ll have some good linebackers and be interchangeable."

Barnett said his knee feels good now and he only needs to work himself back into football shape before the season. Although he must hit the ground running a week into training camp, he said he is truly excited for the opportunity to compete on a winning team.

"We are going to see where we are at [with my role] when the season starts," he said with a shrug. "I am here to do whatever I am told to do, play, and be the biggest impact I can for this team."

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