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Thread: Barron Learning on the Job
Barron Learning on the Job
Thursday, December 22, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
As Orlando Pace addressed the media after being named to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday, he joked about bringing rookie right tackle and fellow bookend Alex Barron with him to Hawaii to get a taste of the proceedings.
Every one got a little chuckle out of the joke, with the possible exception of Barron. By most accounts, though, maybe Barron should lobby for a trip just to get used to the atmosphere.
“I think he’s going to be spectacular,” interim coach Joe Vitt said. “I really do. He’s athletic. I think when he has a whole offseason in the weight room with power lifts and getting stronger, I think he’s going to be a premier tackle. I really do.”
In other words, it might not be long before Barron joins Pace on the annual journey to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. Barron probably isn’t ready for all of that, but he might not be far off.
Considering the amount of things Barron has dealt with as a rookie, he might be well on his way to a long and prolific NFL career. Nary a rookie in the league has an easy first season. There are always speed bumps along the way such as adjusting to the speed of the NFL, learning proper techniques and handling the sudden fame and money that go with being in the league.
Barron learned all he needed to know about the business side early on. After the Rams chose him with the 19th pick of the first round, Barron was held out of training camp for most of the first month.
Even before Barron had signed his name to a contract he had struggled mightily in the team’s mini camp. He was trying to learn the right side and seemed overwhelmed by the playbook.
After arriving at camp, Barron worked to get better, but was at a distinct disadvantage because he wasn’t used to working exclusive on the right side and his absence had rankled the coaching staff. Barron fell on the depth chart behind the likes of Rex Tucker, among others.
Tucker won the job coming out of camp and it seemed that Barron would be on the bench learning for most of the year with coach Mike Martz going so far as to say that would be a good thing.
Even when Tucker suffered a calf injury against the *****, Barron remained on the left side and inactive for games.
Blaine Saipaia handled the right tackle job against Arizona and Tennessee, but because of the injuries on the line, Barron finally started to get worked in on the right side in the week leading up to the game against the Titans in week three.
Barron was active for the first time that week and with Saipaia struggling, he got his chance late in the third quarter. Barron wasted no time asserting himself, rag dolling defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on his second play and coming up with a huge fumble recovery soon after.
With that test passed, Barron faced a huge challenge for his first start in New York’s Michael Strahan.
“That’s why he is here,” Martz said at the time. “That’s why he is a first-round pick. That’s why he’s starting. We’re not trying to develop him; this isn’t the Boys Club. He has to go play.”
Barron more than held his own against Strahan. Strahan got one sack, but that came on a stunt and he didn’t beat Barron to get it.
While Barron’s performance in his first few games was excellent, he still has some work left to do. For now, he is getting by mainly on his supreme athleticism and wingspan. He can use those traits to keep speed rushes to the outside away from his quarterback, but he has plenty of learning to do to become the player he could.
“Natural ability I think the sky is the limit,” guard Adam Timmerman said. “He’s got a ton of athletic ability. As soon as he can learn the technique a little better as far as pass sets and doing some of those things I think he is going to be fine. He’s young and he’s immature a little bit.”
Since taking over the job, Barron has made the revolving door at right tackle come to a stop. He has earned the starting job and held on to it. He even learned an important lesson about what it takes to be great in the NFL.
“It’s just a whole bunch of hard work,” Barron said. “It’s just the hard work, period. That’s the bottom line.”
Barron has been able to get by for most of this year on that aforementioned natural talent, but as his mental game grows so too does his confidence.
The challenges every week have only grown. Against Houston, Barron suffered a thumb injury that caused him to have surgery to repair torn ligaments in his hand. He missed the games against Washington and Minnesota before returning last week against Philadelphia.
Battling Jevon Kearse with a huge cast on your hand isn’t a task many would welcome, but Barron held up well.
“To do what he did, coming back from surgery, playing with a cast, going against Jevon Kearse, I was really proud of him,” Vitt said. “He battled. He has to get a little bit more confidence. I know his hand was hurting him. He was catching more than punching. I think that will come, but I was proud of him.”
Barron’s development certainly hasn’t been stymied by the injuries or any other extraneous factors. The soft-spoken tackle has been more than willing to learn and who better to teach him than Pro Bowler Pace.
“He’s taught me some different things, a few things I didn’t know,” Barron said. “He helped me touch up some things that I was already doing and different things to focus on.”
And Pace has been a willing mentor.
“He has all the skills,” Pace said. “I have an open door policy if he wants to come and ask me some questions or if I see something I can probably help him do then I’ll do that.
“I think he is getting better week in and week out. Every game he plays, I think he is progressing. He has some torn ligaments in his hand, but he went out and fought hard and played hard. I think he is going to be better. His future is really bright.”
Pace has spent the better part of the past few years searching for a bookend on the right side, he certainly has that now, but it might not be long before he gets a travel partner, too.
Re: Barron Learning on the Job
By next year we will have the best pair of tackles in the nfl. now, if the interior of the line cooperates, we may just be on our way to return to glory, assuming of course that someone other than big grease, little and pisa can tackle.
ramming speed to all
Re: Barron Learning on the Job
Barron has really outplayed my expectations this season.
-12-22-2005 #4maineram Guest
Re: Barron Learning on the Job
Barron has played beyond where I thought he might be at this point in his first season. Very nice pickup in the first round for the Rams, and a very bright future at both tackle positions. It will be so nice next season not to have to," chip block" an end on that right side and let the TE go do his thing upfield.
Great pick, Shaw, or was it Zygmunt, no Armey, oh ya MARTZ !!!!!!!