New Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry is enthusiasitc about player workouts, meeting the rookies and foreseeing competition at every position.
This is an exciting time of year for Joe Barry.
The humid, sweat-inducing May weather makes even a walkthrough "look like you did something," the Redskins defensive coordinator said on "Redskins Nation" earlier this week.
It also means the players, all of whom Barry is finally getting a chance to know better, are back in the weight room and on the field, showcasing their strength and skills, shaking off the rust for the past few weeks.
The upcoming season, still months away, is starting to feel within reach.
"The guys are working," Barry said. "They are working their tails off. It's very exciting."
Since players began offseason workouts in April, Barry has begun to see the potential of his defense and feel confident about his schemes as he learns more about the new faces that were acquired in March and drafted a few weeks ago.
"We've got guys that are going to get off the ball and cause havoc in the backfield, whether it's tackles for losses, whether it's sacking the quarterback," Barry said. "We're going to allow them to really get off and penetrate and cause havoc in the backfield."
It's not just the new guys providing a spark, either. Aside from defensive linemen Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton, Barry seems just as inspired by veterans Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Frank Kearse and Kedric Golston.
At this point, with strength and conditioning a primary part of the spring, the work ethic from players is what stands out to Barry.
"I really wish people could see how hard these guys work. All of them," Barry said. "Stephen Paea is here from 7:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon every single day and the guy is – whether it's the classroom, whether it's the weight room, whether it's the practice field, they are all working their tails off, so it's really impressive."
Barry gave the same compliments to linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
"Ryan Kerrigan comes to work every single day," Barry said. "What a true competitor he is. It doesn't matter if it's February, if it's May. He's been in this building every single day that I've been here since I've been hired and it's impressive just the way he goes about his business."
Then there are the rookies, who began minicamp on Friday and have already spoken with Barry about their opportunities on an NFL roster.
Barry has had a few talks with second-round draft pick Preston Smith, who will be transitioning into an outside linebacker and have the advantage of learning from veterans such as Kerrigan and Hatcher. Barry's message has been simple.
The Washington Redskins held their first rookie minicamp practice of 2015 the morning of May 15, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
"I told Preston Smith this," said Barry, who admitted that it's very likely to see Smith, Kerrigan and Trent Murphy on the field at the same time this season. "If you don't know what to do, watch those guys, watch Ryan Kerrigan in the meeting. Look how he takes notes. Look how he pays attention. Watch him in the weight room, how he works his ever-living butt off."
Sound advice during a transitional time for rookies. Smith, who Barry said is surprisingly bigger than he looks, was speaking English at Mississippi State, and "now he's learning advanced French" at the NFL level.
"I've only been around him for two and a half days," Barry said, "but I'm really liking what I see so far."
And what he sees in the future is a plethora of challenging roster decisions. But like general manager Scot McCloughan, Barry loves having competition and seeing how it pushes players to reach their best.
"I think competition brings out the best in everybody," Barry said. "And when you can have competition in every position, it's going to give max effort with everybody. That's what we're looking for. When you're worried about that guy behind you, nipping at your heels for your position, that's the best motivator."