Shawn Barber hadn't been working too long with his new team before the Kansas City Chiefs learned one thing:
Their team speed in the linebacking corps had improved considerably with the addition of the former Philadelphia weak-side linebacker.
"You can feel his movement," defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said after watching Barber in his first mini-camp in May.
Barber gives the Chiefs the kind of speedy coverage linebacker they lost when they decided they couldn't afford Donnie Edwards after the 2002 season. Edwards, who was only the team's leading tackler and best overall defensive player of the previous three seasons, went off to San Diego and eventually won a Pro Bowl berth as a alternate.
Barber could be an upgrade over even Edwards, as good as he was in a Chiefs uniform. But, he also could find himself battling to overcome many of the same problems Edwards fought when covering backs or tight ends.
That is, Barber may find himself having to hold his coverage longer given what has been a notoriously weak Chiefs pass rush over the past several seasons.
It's no more than conjecture, perhaps, but it remains a viable question: Can Barber be as effective in Kansas City as he was in Philadelphia where he was part of a superior defense -- No. 1 in sacks, second in fewest points yielded and No. 4 overall in total defense -- that included solid pass rushers in Hugh Douglas, N.D. Kalu and Darwin Walker?
The Chiefs, remember, produced only 34 sacks last year, a far cry from the Eagles' 56. He recorded two of his five career interceptions in '02 in part because opposing quarterback had to get rid of the ball more quickly than they did against the '02 Chiefs defense.
Unless the Chiefs get the improved pocket pressure they're hoping to see from second-year defensive tackle Ryan Sims -- who never really had a first year because of injuries -- or more edge rush from ends Eric Hicks and Vonnie Holliday, Barber may well find himself having to extend his coverage a full one to two seconds longer than he did with the Eagles. That's all it takes sometimes for a receiver to get the step he needs to escape coverage and make the difference in completing a pass.
In judging from his skill levels alone, Barber likely is up to the challenge. But he might want to be ready for the transition, nonetheless.