Barnett bolsters Skins' defense
RICHMOND—Here is a look at the depth chart at inside linebacker after the Redskins’ acquisition of Nick Barnett.
Starters: London Fletcher, Perry Riley
Reserves: Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl, Roddrick Muckelroy, Jeremy Kimbrough, Marvin Burdette
In 10 NFL seasons Barnett has played in 139 NFL games and he started every one of them. That will not be the case when he plays his first game for the Redskins.
He is here strictly in a reserve role. Fletcher is the captain and leader of the defense while Riley is both the present and future at the position. They are the unquestioned starters.
And they are not just the starters, they are every down players. Riley missed just 15 of the Redskins 1185 defensive snaps last year and Fletcher was out for 66 of them.
On top of that, they both show up for work every week. Fletcher, of course, is a legend in that regard; he has never missed a game since he game into the league in 1999. Riley has a much shorter games streak going at 24 straight starts.
This will require an adjustment on the part of Barnett. He has averaged over 1000 snaps in each of the last three seasons where he has been healthy. He did miss seven games in 2008 due to a knee injury and lost 12 games in 2010 to a wrist injury.
Barnett was signed after ex-Bronco Joe Mays left without a deal last week. It is apparent that the Redskins were not comfortable with their depth at this position in the wake of Keenan Robinson’s torn pectoral, which likely will end his season.
That leaves questions about the other options. The Redskins are likely to keep four inside linebackers so one job is open after Fletcher, Riley and Barnett. Kehl and Muckelroy will probably fight it out for that job. Meanwhile, Kimbrough and Burdette will hope to impress enough to get practice squad consideration.