Sunday, August 18, 2013

Barnes poised for Week 1 start if Coples sits


In frugal fashion, the New York Jets signed former San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Antwan Barnes to plug in as a situational pass-rusher and rotational front-seven defender.

Barnes, however, will likely start the season in a bigger role than the Jets initially intended for him.

Starting outside linebacker Quinton Coples is reportedly expected to miss three to four weeks after sustaining a hairline fracture in his ankle during the Jets' 37-13 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Barnes, who was responsible for 18.5 sacks in 38 games for the Chargers, is next in line on the depth chart.

Barnes is a very serviceable option from an outside rushing standpoint, but Coples will be missed because of his versatility. He often lined up on the inside of the defensive line last year and is a key piece in Rex Ryan's front-seven chess game. Coples is also stout against the run.

If Coples does sit out Week 1, he'll be poised for a return to the field just in time to take on the New England Patriots for a Thursday night bout Week 2.

When Coples does make it back out there, expect Barnes to still be a big part of a Jets defense that regularly rotates defenders on and off the field as well as in and out of multiple positions.

“Me being in my seventh year in the league, sometimes you’ve just got to play your role,” Barnes said in April. “Whatever role they have for me, I’m going to play to the best of my ability.”

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