For as long as Broncos veterans Champ Bailey, Keith Brooking, Peyton Manning and Brandon Stokley have been doing it, Buccaneers safety Ronde Barber has been doing it longer.
In his 16th season, Barber has a longer NFL tenure than anyone on the Broncos roster and is still producing.
This year, however, the longtime cornerback has moved to safety.
“It doesn’t matter where he’s playing, whether he’s playing corner, whether he’s playing nickel, whether he’s playing back there for safety — he’s a good football player,” Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said. “You love to watch him play. You have to be careful playing against him because he’s going to do some things that other players can’t do. He’s been around a lot and he’s a great football player.”
This season, Barber has already snared four interceptions — his most since 2008 — 12 passes defensed, a sack, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown, making him a player the Broncos offense will need to keep tabs on throughout Sunday’s contest.
Head Coach John Fox saw that type of production from Barber twice a year when he coached the division-rival Carolina Panthers.
“He’s a ball hawk,” Fox said. “He’s been that way his whole career.”
The 37-year-old has 14 years on his safety counterpart, rookie Mark Barron, who has an interception and a forced fumble himself.
Barber’s leadership and influence on the young players around him has impressed Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano.
“I kind of like his command back there and all those things and he and Mark working together,” Schiano said on Wednesday.
Bailey said he continues to admire Barber, and keeps tabs on how he’s playing.
As far as McCoy is concerned, Barber is playing as well now as ever.
“He plays the game the way you want it,” McCoy said.