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Barron Excelling at Linebacker

Posted Oct 28, 2015

While he's listed as a safety, Mark Barron has performed quite well filling in for Alec Ogletree at weakside linebacker.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a philosophy that his players need to be able to play multiple positions, and Mark Barron has proved a perfect example of this since Alec Ogletree’s Week 4 injury.

“You have to be able to learn more than just one position,” Williams said in his press conference last week. “You’ve got a primary position and you’ve got a backup position. We have 42 ways to add up to 11. We have 42 packages of defense that we’ll trot 11 guys out there. We play the same kind of a defensive structure, but we have different people playing different spots. Mark fits in that very well and I’ve been real proud of him, too.”

Ogletree is the team’s leading tackler over the past two seasons and remains atop the list this year, despite missing two full games. The former Georgia bulldog is known for his sideline-to-sideline speed, which allows him to post big numbers as the Rams’ weakside linebacker. Filling his shoes is no small task, but Barron has been versatile and productive in a number of different looks that Williams has dialed up. Williams and his scheme deserve credit, but Barron’s football IQ also plays a big roll in his success.

“Yeah, I would refer to it as football instincts,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “They’re special. We move him around, we’re blitzing him, and he’s playing coverage. He understands his run responsibilities and his gap fits.”

After Sunday’s win against the Browns, the coaches credited Barron with 19 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two tackles for a loss. He was everywhere on the field, as Ogletree normally is.

“He's just a guy who knows football,” said veteran James Laurinaitis. “He's one of those Alabama guys and you have to be a smart player to play at Alabama in Saban's system. He knows a lot of football and really triggers when he sees a play happening and he goes for it. He'll only get better as he continues to see the game from the weak linebacker position.”

In the locker room after Sunday’s 24-6 victory Barron didn’t make much of the transition, saying it felt natural to him.

“I’m just playing football, that’s the easy part to me,” Barron said. “I just line up and I know my responsibilities and as long as I do that, it’s not a hard adjustment. It’s just football.”

Despite his impressive individual showing on Sunday, he was eager to comment on the entire defensive unit’s performance.

“We’re a tough defense when we play the way we want to play,” Barron said. “I feel like you could put us against anybody and we can get those same results when we play the way we’re supposed to.”