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Green Dot Third Time Over: Krys Barnes Now Gets Defensive Role

Veteran will call signals with both White, Woods on IR

Krys Barnes has become last man standing of the veteran inside linebackers now that Kyzir White and Josh Woods will finish the season on IR.
Krys Barnes has become last man standing of the veteran inside linebackers now that Kyzir White and Josh Woods will finish the season on IR.

The Cardinals will have a new quarterback of the defense Sunday in Chicago, with linebacker Krys Barnes taking over the green dot after Josh Woods landed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

It's been a while, but Barnes isn't a stranger to calling plays for the defense.

"I was the green dot my rookie year (with the Packers) and parts of my second year, so I've got a feel for it," Barnes said. "You just can't make it bigger than what it is. At the end of the day, it's still football and we all have a job to do."

Barnes will be the third player in the last five games to hold the position for the Cardinals defense. Linebacker Kyzir White played every snap at the role until he tore his bicep in Week 11 against the Texans. Woods took over and did a solid job filling the void prior to being placed on IR.

As good as White and Woods were on the field, their leadership was among the best on the roster. Barnes understands the challenges left by their absence.

"I think as a defense we're pretty tight knit together and we know how to talk to one another," the fourth-year veteran said. "Of course, being the playcaller and relaying the call, I got to set us up with the right tempo, stay calm, and come with the right demeanor. Thankfully, that's kind of my demeanor anyway. Never too high, never too low, and hopefully that carries throughout the game and helps rally everybody around me."

When Barnes stepped into Woods' role at inside linebacker, he mentioned that each week there was an emphasis in the linebacker room to prepare like the starter. "In this league, you never know what's going to happen and at any given moment you have to be ready to go," Barnes said.

That is life in the NFL, safety Budda Baker said.

"We have all trust and respect of all the other linebackers in the building," Baker said. "We're rolling with what we have and Krys Barnes has been doing a great job continuing to talk to us, continuing to get the calls out. It's next man mentality and we're just focused on playing good football this week."

Baker added that as long as the call is heard, the unit will be fine.

The injury bug has plagued the Cardinals all season long, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sixteen different players have missed time this season. Baker missed five games and Barnes was sidelined against the Ravens earlier this season. In total, 111 player games have been missed to injury for the Cardinals.

But the mentality that Baker alluded to has given plenty of players the chance to make an impact on the field. Rookie linebacker Owen Pappoe should see an increase in playing time. The coaches could also tweak the gameplan and use multiple safeties more often.

"This is what we all train for and we dream about to be here and to have an opportunity to play a meaningful game, especially in December," Barnes said. "We got three games left and we're all excited for the opportunity ahead to finish the season off right. Whoever is out there, whether it's me, Zeke (Turner), OP, Tyreek (Maddox-Williams). It doesn't matter who it is, we're all excited for the opportunity and we'll take full advantage of it."

Photos of the Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders from the Cardinals matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, Week 12 of the 2023 season