Now entering his fourth season with the Redskins, defensive back Kevin Barnes is focused on earning more playing time in 2012 and developing as a ball-hawk in the secondary.
Last season, Barnes played in a career-high 15 games and picked off two passes. His motivation to take strides in 2012 is predicated on improving the defense and helping out his rookie quarterback.
"I want to produce turnovers, to give the offense short field to help our rookie quarterback out," he said, referring to Robert Griffin III. "He's going to go through his growing pains, so the defense has to help him out."
That give-and-take relationship between offense and defense is usually the difference between winning and losing football games.
Through the first four weeks of the 2011 season, the Redskins were 3-1 and ranked first in the NFL for time of possession. Once injuries ravaged the offense, the defense wore down, causing both units to slip.
Barnes credits the coaching staff for improving the offseason roster depth on both sides of the ball, and says he wants to contribute to the turnaround.
"I want to rank higher in total defense and help my team get the ball back," he said. "We really don't have any excuses right now, in regards to our personnel.
"Coach Shanahan has been here for awhile, and he has all the guys that we need in here. There is great competition at every position. You don't know how the team is actually going to look when the season starts, but we have a lot of great players to choose from."
In order to respond to the competition, Barnes has been working hard this offseason, taking snaps throughout the secondary. An improved conditioning program has prepared his body for the grind of a 16-game schedule.
"I need to be able to hold up throughout the entire season," he said. "Making sure my body is together and my body is healthy is the most important thing I have been focusing on. You never know how many reps you're going to have."
Barnes expressed high hopes for the Redskins in 2012, and believes he will surprise fans with his personal improvement.
"Expect me to get my hands on a lot more passes this year," he said. "The coaches are utilizing my size and abilities in different ways than they did in the last few years. I'm pretty excited."