This is a critical time for Kevin Barnes.
In his first two seasons in the NFL, Barnes has had limited playing time on the Redskins' defense. The 6-1, 190-pound cornerback has played in six games this season.
He has served as the fifth cornerback behind DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers, Phillip Buchanon and Byron Westbrook.
With Rogers still slowed by a hamstring injury this week, Barnes is seeing more playing time in the base defense and in nickel packages.
It appears defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants to give him that chance.
"In this league, everyone on the roster usually has an opportunity to play at some point," Haslett said. "When you get that opportunity, what are you going to do with it? I think that's where Kevin is at right now."
Said Barnes: "I've been waiting for the past year and a half for [an opportunity] to come. I practice hard every day. Everybody knows I give everything I have in practice, so I'm going to go out there and do what I do on the practice field."
In last Sunday's game vs. New York, Barnes replaced Phillip Buchanon in the lineup mid-game.
It was thought Barnes could help more against the Giants' power running game, head coach Mike Shanahan said.
In his first extended playing time, Barnes was credited with three tackles and one pass defended.
"You always feel better once a guy gets some playing time," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "He gets a little confidence going. Phillip has been playing all year, but it was nice to see Kevin make some plays."
Haslett said he has been impressed with Barnes' physicality and intelligence.
"That means a lot," Barnes said. "I've been caught up in the numbers a little bit here with a deep secondary, but for him to come out and compliment me like that, I take it to heart because he has always believed in me since I've been here."
Talent and potential only takes a player so far, though.
Barnes still must prove himself on game days, Haslett said.
"He was a high draft pick," Haslett said. "Sooner or later somebody has to give him an opportunity to play and see if he can play in this league or if he can't play in the league. Some guys don't get those opportunities and sometimes they go somewhere else and they are stars."
-- HARRIS GETS FIRST-TEAM REPS
With LaRon Landry still slowed by an Achilles injury and Kareem Moore bothered by knee and biceps injuries, safety Macho Harris is getting first-team reps on the Redskins' defense this week.
Harris, a second-year player out of Virginia Tech, joined the Redskins on Nov. 23. He made his Redskins debut last Sunday vs. New York.
He could see significant playing time this Sunday vs. Tampa Bay. He played in 15 games, with eight starts, last year with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I feel better [about Harris] than I did two weeks ago, that's for sure, when he was just learning the system," Mike Shanahan said. "It's always tough in that first week. He has been working hard and he's played in the NFL. He should be ready to go."
Added Jim Haslett: "He's getting better. Kareem is hurting a little bit so he might have to play. He needs to catch up with everything fast."
-- DAVIS CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Running back James Davis earned praise from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday.
Davis was one of the few bright spots in last Sunday's 31-7 loss to the New York Giants.
He led the Redskins' rushing attack with nine carries for 40 yards. He also caught three passes for 41 yards.
"I thought he did a good job," Shanahan said. "He had some good runs and he ran hard. He had a couple of longer runs where he was over 10 yards. He made some plays on a screen and we were excited about that.
"He had more opportunities than he did vs. Minnesota and he showed us some good things."
-- MCVAY TAKES OVER TIGHT ENDS
Mike Shanahan said on Thursday that offensive assistant Sean McVay would coach tight ends for the remainder of the season.
"He coached the tight ends last year in the UFL and did a great job with Jim Haslett," Shanahan said. "He has come here and he has done a great job with the tight ends. He knows the position well.
"He's a very sharp, young coach. He jumped in with both feet and he's doing a good job."
McVay is in his first season with the Redskins.