New York Jets linebacker Deion Barnes ready if called upon

Deion Barnes is ready if called upon

FLORHAM PARK: Deion Barnes is well aware of the situation presently transpiring in Florham Park. 

While Jets starting outside linebackers Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace are as healthy as anyone, behind the two things are a bit different. Reserves Trevor Reilly and Lorenzo Mauldin are both injured and haven't practice this week. Reilly's dealing with an infected finger, and Mauldin's stuck in the NFL's concussion protocol. 

The two are the only two active reserve outside linebackers on the Jets roster. If neither are able to play Sunday, which is a distinct possibility, someone is going to have to take their place. 

And there's a good chance that someone is Barnes. 

"I'm ready," he said. 

Undrafted out of Penn State, Barnes spent the offseason with the Jets after signing with the team on May 8. During his collegiate career, he was one of the better pass rushers in the Big 10. 

In his three years suiting up for the Nittany Lions, Barnes recorded 26.5 tackles for a loss and 14 quarterback sacks. In 2014, Barnes set career-highs in tackles (44), tackles for a loss (12.5) and sacks (six.) He also defended a pass and forced a fumble. 

In the preseason, Barnes took what he did in college, and translated it quite well to the professional level. The linebacker finished with one quarterback sack, a quarterback hit, five quarterback hurries and four tackles in the Jets four exhibition games. He impressed the coaches, too, earning the praise on several times. 

While Barnes was cut during New York's final roster trim, he was added to the practice squad once he cleared waivers. He's been there ever since, but may be activated prior to Sunday's game. 

"I haven't heard anything yet, but in my mind, I'm ready," Barnes said. "I'm in every meeting. I know all the plays. I prepare every week like I'm going into the game. I ask questions, stay on my job and take mental reps whenever the 1's are in the game." 

A relatively unknown, Barnes said he views himself as a complete player that can "do it all." That means rush the passer, but also play the run. He compares himself to Calvin Pace

But there is one area of Barnes' game that he believes separates himself from the rest. And while rushing the quarterback gets you sacks and stuffing the run tackles for loss, this doesn't show up on any stat sheet. 

"The best thing for me? I'm a smart player," Barnes said. "As the game goes on, I adjust, and I adjust well." 

If Barnes does get activated to the 53-man roster, and thus become game-day eligible, it may not be until Saturday that he finds out. Then, 24 hours later, he'll be dressing in the first NFL game of his career. 

But for now, none of that is on his mind. Barnes is just focused on getting better each day so that when his number is called, he can help the Jets. 

"I ain't thinking about that, man. I'm preparing day-by-day," Barnes said. "That's it. I'm taking everything day-by-day."

 

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email (connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com)


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