Despite move to safety, Bucs will still play to Ronde Barber's strengths
Longtime cornerback Ronde Barber is well into his transition to free safety after two months of offseason work, but as the Bucs prepare to wrap up their three-day minicamp, it’s become clear that Barber’s role will really be much more.
Barber hasn’t registered 27 sacks and been a tackling machine by being a mere cornerback. He’s always had other dimensions to his game, and that won’t change no matter what position he plays.
Case in point: Barber, 37, has been predictably posted close to the ball on passing downs, lining up in the slot or in the box, near the line of scrimmage. And, Barber said, because of coach Greg Schiano’s approach, he’ll get frequent opportunities to blitz.
“I’m going to do a lot of different things,” Barber said. “(Schiano) is definitely an aggressive play caller and I get to move around with the nickel and dime packages. You can expect some blitzing from me. Maybe one or two per game.
“I get a chance to be an impact player in this defense and I’m looking forward to that.”
In addition to potentially decking a few quarterbacks, Barber will also look to add to his interception total. And playing deeper in the secondary, he said, could help him do that. As the free safety, Barber will potentially have the ability to read quarterbacks’ eyes. That could allow him to get a better jump on pass attempts. He already has superb ball skills.
“One benefit of being farther back in the backfield is you get a chance to really see the quarterback, which has always been a strength of mine,” Barber said. “It’s putting my strengths to the test.”
Another area Barber is being tested: In the meeting room, where Schiano said Barber takes comprehensive notes and is practically on the edge of his seat.
“I’m getting to do a lot of things that’s keeping me stimulated in the meeting room and out here on the practice field,” Barber said. “I’m enjoying it.”