The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team in transition, mixing veteran players with youth. One of the most noticeable areas of this blend is at the safety position with rookie Mark Barron and veteran Ronde Barber.
Barber, the 16-year veteran, moved from cornerback to safety this season as he made his 200th straight start on opening day. Ronde, who has been a staple of the Bucs' defense for over a decade, has made the transition easily and has been playing well at the start of the season.
In his career, Barber has totaled 1172 tackles, 28 sacks, and 44 interceptions, using his intellect to make plays instead of relying on his size (just 5’10”). As his career begins to wind down, a new safety in the secondary can learn a lot from just watching and playing beside him each day, rookie Mark Barron.
Barron, the 6’1” safety, was the Buccaneers' first pick in the 2012 NFL draft. A former team captain, he helped lead Alabama to a National Championship in 2011 and made big-time, physical plays for head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama defense, something the Bucs are hoping he can bring to the NFL level.
Yet, despite the physical tools and accolades surrounding him coming out of college, Barron still has a lot to learn and a long way to go, but he has help on that journey.
Teaming up with Barber every day in practice and on Sundays, Barron is able to not only practice with the veteran, he is also able to watch how he handles himself off the field as well. Barber has been a great personality in the Tampa area for years, donating his time and always speaking softly, but making large impressions on people.
Many NFL rookies often struggle their first season as they deal with the new lifestyle of the NFL, as well as on the field. Barron, with his physical tools, will learn quickly on the field and has already made an impression there, but being able to watch and learn from a true professional like Barber is invaluable for the rookie.
Watch for Barron to only get better on the field as the season progresses, making big hits and big plays, but also watch for him to continue to grow as a professional. Barron has one of the best in franchise history to teach him all about the professional game and an example of how to be a professional off the field.
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