Bucs safety Mark Barron struggled, as all of the secondary did at times in 2012, but showed flashes of why Tampa Bay selected the former Alabama stat No. 7 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Barron talked about his rookie season recently, switching jersey numbers and also losing Ronde Barber as a teammate.
2012 saw Buccaneers rookie safety Mark Barron – like the rest of the secondary – struggle with consistency at times.
In the first game of the year against the Panthers, the former Crimson Tide star had a terrific beginning to his NFL career with three tackles and two pass breakups. The Mobile, Ala. native also notched a highlight-reel hit on Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, and another gem in the second half where Barron came from nearly half way across the field to knock a deep ball down that would have resulted in a big play for the Panthers.
In Week 6 against the Chiefs, Barron had what would be his only interception of the year, and that game was – statistically speaking (eight tackles, one pass break up and the interception) – the best of his rookie season.
Barron ended his inaugural season with 88 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception
Barron, although impressive at times, had stretches of games where he looked like exactly what he was – a rookie. But Tampa Bay and Barron are expecting big things in 2013.
Last week Barron stood in nearly the exact same spot where he had stood 12 months earlier as a bright-eyed rookie, and talked about his first year in the league and what he wants to accomplish in 2013. With a full season under his belt, Barron was talking like a veteran after Tampa Bay’s first week of OTAs (organized team practices).
“[Somewhat I feel like veteran but] there are still some things I want to improve on,” Barron said. “I am a lot more comfortable, I will say that. Just coming out here and getting to work and getting a feel for my new teammates. And hopefully be the best we can be.”
One of his mentors, veteran safety Ronde Barber, chose to trade in his cleats for a microphone. The loss of Barber was a blow for Barron.
“I was not excited about him not coming back,” Barron said. “I felt like I still has some things I could have learned from him. But I can’t be selfish like that. He felt like it was that time for him and he had a great career so he can probably still teach me things. We can still stay in contact and teach me some things. I wish he would have come back, but it is what it is.”
Although Barber retired the Buccaneers and Barron feel like he can improve by being around the two newest members of the secondary, Pro Bowlers Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.
“Knowledge [is what they bring to the table],” Barron said. “Just like with Ronde Barber (last year). There were certain things I wanted to learn from him as far as just studying the game. And I picked up some things from him and now I have two different players I can pick up more things from. I just feel like I am in a great situation where I can learn from different players and pick up a lot of things.”
Bucs fans will have to get used to seeing Barron in a new number this year as Barron gave up his No. 24 to Revis and instead will wear Myron Lewis’ No. 23 (Lewis is now wearing No. 31).
“I’m still the same [player] it isn’t anything but a number," Barron said “The number doesn’t make the player, the player makes the number – so it’s all the same. He [Revis] can have that. I am going to make something out this number 23 I have on.”
Speculation has run rampant about what it took to get Barron to give Revis his No. 24 jersey, but Barron was tight-lipped when asked by the media.
“We don’t have to discuss all that,” Barron laughed. “We are just to talk about I have No. 23 and I am going to make something out of the new number I have.”
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