Dan Campbell on rookie LB Derrick Barnes: ‘He’s got to play better’

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  • Detroit Lions
    Detroit Lions
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  • Derrick Barnes
    Derrick Barnes
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  • Levi Onwuzurike
    Levi Onwuzurike
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Lions rookie head coach Dan Campbell continues to solidify his reputation for speaking the truth. In a weekly radio appearance on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Campbell stated some hard truths about a couple of his defensive rookies, LB Derrick Barnes and DE Levi Onwuzurike.

The blunt assessment of Barnes is something most Lions fans can agree with in the wake of a rough outing against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle scored on nine straight possessions and Barnes was one of the chief culprits in the Lions’ inability to stop the opposing offense.

“He’s got to play better,” Campbell said of the fourth-round linebacker. “He’s got to play better, and I thought he took a step back. We need more from our stack-backers. You asked me and I would say, yeah, he’s improving. He’s learning, he’s growing, and not that he’s not (growing his game), but after last week, he took a step back.”

Coach Campbell went into further detail on where Barnes can improve.

“I think with Derrick, there’s things that he learns from that he doesn’t have to make a mistake to learn from,” Campbell said. “But then there’s enough of these where, honestly, he’s got to stick his hand in the fire before he realizes that it is hot. You can’t just tell him. He’s got to figure it out himself.”

Campbell also expressed some frustration with second-round DE Levi Onwuzurike. He had a particularly poor game in run defense in Seattle, a recurring theme for Onwuzurike in his rookie campaign.

“Levi is kinda what he’s been,” Campbell said. “He’s been up and down. He flashed. Man, he shows out, and the next play, it’s a learning experience. Next play, he shows out. Next play, it’s a learning experience. So there’s just some inexperience there that he’s still having to get over bumps in the road — which he will.”

Onwuzurike has not recorded a single QB pressure in the last month, and his run defense and tackling have been disturbingly bad.

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