Going into the 2014 season, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had high expectations for linebacker Sam Barrington, as Bob McGinn wrote in a February article for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“I really look for him to take a jump in Year 2,” McCarthy said of Barrington. “He knows that. That was part of our (exit) conversation. I thought he did some really good things in the pre-season. I was excited about him and then he got injured. Sam’s a big guy.
“In planning, I want to be more multiple. So guys like Sam Barrington, young players, are going to be able to compete.”
Barrington has not let down his coach this training camp. No. 58 has had a good summer and was the lone inside linebacker with the starters in the dime package this week in practice.
That's because Brad Jones is out with a quadriceps injury. The Packers are using Jamari Lattimore in the base and nickel looks in the absence of Jones and then Barrington when the team goes into the dime.
That gives a player like Barrington an opportunity to shine in front of the coaches and push for even more playing time.
Barrington talked about playing in the dime in this piece by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"You could be put into any type of position," Barrington said. "You've got to be versatile, you've got to be able to move because those are predominantly passing downs.... You've got to be ready to execute mentally. They try to get in your head and get you to make bad decisions."
The former seventh-round draft pick tries to make a statement every day in practice.
"Don't just say, 'I'm going to get through practice,'" Barrington told Dunne. "Don't just survive the practice. Have an agenda every day."
The Packers are looking for more consistency at the inside linebacker position. While A.J. Hawk had one of the better seasons of his career in 2013 at one of the inside linebacker spots, the other inside linebacker did not fare as well in 2013.
Part of the reason was due to injuries to Jones, who had hamstring and ankle injuries that forced him to miss four games. But even when he was healthy, Jones did not play as well as he had in 2012.
When Lattimore filled in while Jones was out with injuries, there were too many missed tackles and missed assignments.
That's why Barrington has to try to take advantage of this opportunity.
Well, he has played pretty well. I think he's progressed nicely. I don't know, if I necessarily see him being the guy, but I think he has shown progress.
I think with more reps we are going to get a better feel for what he brings for them. He's a good player, and I know they like him. I know he's worked hard. He's going to get his chance here. He's going to get more reps.
You really get to know when these guys have to be pushed up to the forefront. That's why there's really no such thing as a backup. Backups become starters quickly. Sam is going to get his chance. I like what I've seen thus far, but you have to see more under fire.
As of now, the Packers are still going through their roster cutdown. You can be sure that one of the players on the 53-man roster will be Sam Barrington.
Whether or not he'll get ample playing time against the Seattle Seahawks next Thursday night is still up in the air, depending on the status of the quad injury to Jones.
Whenever the opportunity arises for Barrington to get meaningful playing time on the field, expect to see him take full advantage of the situation.