GREEN BAY, Wis: (WFRV) – From Tramon Williams to Ryan Grant, and Cullen Jenkins to George Koonce, the Packers have had plenty of success stories when it comes to signing undrafted free agents. Last year the organization likely found another with LB Krys Barnes.
“I had to grow pretty fast. But the guys around me, the coaching staff, everybody kind of helped me. With that transition of continuing each and every game to get better and better and take that next step,” said Barnes. “And get that one percent better. Then the whole off-season I learned new plays and stuff like that as well, so I still feel like confident.”
Barnes was second on the team last season with 80 tackles and 1 sack while having 6 1/2 tackles for a loss and it was easy to see that he simply has a nose for finding the football.
“Well just as an undrafted guy coming and earning that position, he did it the hard way because a lot of times you’re not given as many opportunities initially, and he just continued to battle,” said head coach Matt LaFleur. “I think he’s a very instinctive player and that really helped us and he made some big-time plays when he was given when given the opportunity.”
Barnes is listed at 6’2″ and 229 pounds and ran a 4.7 – 40 yard dash but following his rookie season, he changed his training methods to play even faster.
“Looking back on the film last year, I realized I was super heavy last year, which I really noticed. I know my weight was up and I realized how heavy and how much weight I was carrying,”‘ said Barnes. “So I went into the off-season kind of trying to slim down a little bit. I lost about 10 pounds. But I still feel powerful, I have all my power and feel a little bit faster.” LaFleur added, “I just think he did a really nice job throughout the entire off-season taking care of his body and coming in in great shape.”
The UCLA product went to high school with Jordan Love, and even though he doesn’t envy the position last years first-round selection was in this off-season, he was impressed with how he handled it
“(He handled it) Very well. There were days when I went to check on him, just because in his position, you get talked about in the media whether you like it or not. I wanted to make sure he was doing well and he is. He’s handling everything pretty well. He has a good support group around him. Whether it’s these guys who are on the team, or family members, he’s definitely taking it like a pro,” said Barnes. “He’s hitting the books hard and getting on the field with a good approach this year, in the OTAs, and even now. I’m excited for the growth he’s taken just like I have. I just wanna see what he can do.”
Barnes played in 13 games with 10 starts as a rookie in 2020, and at this early stage of training camp, it looks like he will primarily be paired with veteran LB De’Vondre Campbell on the interior of the Packers defense this season. Barnes will also have the responsibility of relaying the formation and the play call.
“The responsibility is kind of the same. I have the earpiece, so when the young guys set up, I’m going to try and get everybody with our checks and everything we have got to get to,” said Barnes. “We’re all taking steps to fine-tune what we’ve got to install right now and we’re doing a very good job of it.” LaFleur added, “I know he is always working hard at understanding all the details behind our scheme and again another young player that I’m really excited about.”