Saturday, July 30, 2011
Lions' LB search now includes Nick Barnett
By Kevin Seifert
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Greetings from Titletown, where the temperature gauge read an even 90 degrees when I pulled into town. In a few hours, I’ll check out the first training camp practice of the 2011 Green Bay Packers.
But first, we should note a potential news item about a former Packer. According to the NFL Network, linebacker Nick Barnett is scheduled to visit the Detroit Lions on Saturday evening. The Lions completed their second training camp practice Saturday morning and are off Sunday, so it’s possible Barnett will make other visits before making a decision.
The Lions obviously haven’t spoken about the possibility of signing Barnett, but if they do, it would make sense for him to play middle linebacker and for DeAndre Levy to move to the outside. That would give the Lions a respectable trio of veteran starters: Barnett, Levy and newcomer Justin Durant. (It wouldn't change their situation at cornerback, but that story is for another day.)
Barnett’s active Twitter feed has been full of hints and teases about playing for both the Lions and Chicago Bears, either of which would give him the opportunity to play against the Packers twice per season. He’s also been linked to the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Lions’ decision to host Barnett on a visit means they still consider their linebacker position in flux even after the acquisition of Durant. Coach Jim Schwartz said in March he would have no problem moving Levy to the outside should circumstances warrant it.
To me, the biggest concern would be the recent injury histories of both Durant and Barnett. Durant missed six games last season and has never played a 16-game season, while Barnett has suffered season-ending injuries in two of the past three seasons. Stay tuned.