Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Bucs' Ronde Barber expects to make a big impact at free safety

TAMPA — Longtime CB 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 has 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 has 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 posted in his requisite position 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. Playing deeper in the secondary, he said, could help him do that. As the free safety, Barber will have the ability to read quarterbacks' eyes. That could allow him to get a better jump on footballs.

"One benefit of being really (deep) 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 in which 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."

FEELING BETTER: Schiano confirmed CB Eric Wright is dealing with an undisclosed health matter, but Wright's increased activity during the past two days is bolstering hopes that the issue is resolved.

Wright on Tuesday said only that he was dealing with "personal issues" that caused him to miss a number of offseason workouts before this week.

"Without getting into the particulars, it was a non-football related health (issue)," Schiano said. "He was very good at communicating where he was (during missed practices) and how he was dealing with it. The thing that excites me is that he did quite a bit (Tuesday) and he did more (Wednesday)."

Along those lines, Wright was more involved in defensive drills Wednesday after seeing more limited action on Monday.

"He made some plays out there (Wednesday)," Schiano said. "I'm excited."

Asked whether the situation is resolved, Schiano was optimistic but uncertain.

"I hope it's behind him," he said.

PRACTICE TIDBITS: Among the notable moments from Wednesday's practice: The first-team defense forced the first-team offense to turn the ball over on downs in a two-minute drill. The mock scenario: 1:31 remaining in the game, two timeouts remaining, the ball at the offense's 31-yard line and a touchdown being necessary to win.

An incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive near the defense's 20-yard line.

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