Enter a new head coach and after 15 seasons of playing corner at a high level, Ronde Barber moved to free safety. For a five-time Pro Bowler, that's quite a thing to do. It's exemplary of the kind of teammate Barber is and on Wednesday first-year Tampa head coach Greg Schiano said Barber's been huge in helping the young and remade Bucs turn things around.
"I can't tell you how big of a help Ronde has been to me as a first-time head coach in the National Football League," Schiano said. "He's one of our captains, but he's also a guy that I bounce things off of almost constantly. He really has been a huge help and a great role model for some of our younger guys. Ronde's not a rah-rah guy; he's a lead-by-example guy. He's actually stepped out more and spoken up some and that's been big."
Barber's move may have facilitated some young legs at the corner position, but he's continued his high level of play. This season he's got 54 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and three interceptions, one of which he's returned for a touchdown.
Last season, in Atlanta's annual trip to Tampa, Barber intercepted Matt Ryan once, bringing his career total against the quarterback to two. Though he's undergone a position change this season, Ryan thinks Barber is still an integral part of Tampa's defense.
"Ronde is an extremely smart player," Ryan said. "He probably knows his defense as well as anybody in the NFL. He's done a great job. He's a great pattern reader. He's very good at reading the quarterback's eyes and anticipating things coming from the offense. I think he's been a good fit for them on the back end."
Barber is the only player in NFL history with 25 or more sacks (28) and 40 or more interceptions (46) in his career.