Barnes Rounding Out His Role

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Ravens linebacker Antwan Barnes is on a mission to show that he's not just a speed rusher this year.

Judging by his performance in training camp, Barnes has worked hard to accomplish that mission.

Barnes really stood out in the Ravens' preseason opener against the Washington Redskins last Thursday. That night, he made one tackle stuffing a run up the middle, he nearly snagged an interception in coverage and even logged one special teams stop.

And the pass rushing?

Barnes is improving on that too, as evidenced by his first-quarter pressure of Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder came screaming off the edge on third down and hit Campbell just as he released the football.

"Antwan has gotten better at everything," said head coach John Harbaugh. "He needed to get better at everything. Even what his forte is supposed to be, is rushing the passer, he's really smoothed that out. He's got a couple of moves now, a counter or two.

"But he's playing the run so much better. He's playing with technique. He's playing harder. That's something that's got to continue on every day, every game, every practice. He's doing the things that we've asked him to do, and he's responded really well."

The former Florida International University linebacker cites the birth of his daughter, Alyssa Barnes, as a big motivator this spring. Barnes trained diligently with several other NFL players in his hometown of Miami before and after attending parts of the Ravens' offseason minicamps.

With the 5-month-old Alyssa on his mind, Barnes returned a more-complete player.

"Seeing her every day and knowing that I'm going out on the field doing it for her [is important]," Barnes said Thursday. "The past couple of years, I didn't have anyone to do it for except my grandmother. Right now, it's about my grandma and my daughter."

When the Ravens selected Barnes in the fourth round out of FIU in 2007, he was the first person in his school's history to get drafted.

Baltimore was eager to add a player that totaled 23 sacks and 224 tackles throughout his career with the Golden Panthers.

Barnes, who was recently named to CBSSport.com's Sun Belt Conference All-Decade team, began his Ravens career primarily as a special teams contributor.

Now, the Ravens are holding him to a higher standard.

"Antwan Barnes has really had the spotlight on him this entire camp because we know what he can do, we know what we need him to do," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison admitted. "He has done a very good job, throughout camp, of rushing the passer and working as the SAM at the linebacker position.

"We're excited about him."

Barnes, who also is believed to have made the first fumble recovery for the defense at training camp, was itching to get back out on the field against the Redskins after missing the entire 2008 postseason when he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 16 at Dallas.

He thinks Monday's preseason matchup with the New York Jets will give him the chance to further show his skills.

"I'm right where I want to be as far as where I'm at and what I'm doing," Barnes said. "I'm just getting everything back. My last game was the Dallas Cowboys game, so I'm just getting myself back in tune. I feel like this game is going to be good."

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