GREEN BAY, Wis. – The eye injury sustained by linebacker Krys Barnes is “nothing serious,” a source said, and the Green Bay Packers’ rookie linebacker should be “good to go” for Sunday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
Barnes got some grass and dirt in his eye during the third quarter of Saturday’s victory over the Carolina Panthers. He went to the locker room with a trainer and did not return.
"There was a little bit of vision problems but he's fine," coach Matt LaFleur said on Sunday afternoon. "It was a bad deal because he was playing some really good football for us."
Since returning from the COVID-19 list, Barnes has emerged as a key defender for the stretch run. Against Carolina, he was in the starting lineup and played 31 of the first 34 defensive snaps. His goal-line strip of Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater provided a pivotal 14-point swing midway through the second quarter.
“That’s just great awareness, and that’s why you saw him in there quite a bit,” LaFleur said after the game. “He did a great job punching that sucker out, and that definitely was the play of the game, the turning point of the game.”
Barnes went undrafted out of UCLA despite being a three-year starter with solid production. After recording a career-high 85 tackles with 10 for losses as a junior, Barnes posted 74 tackles, four sacks, 10 TFLs, eight passes defensed and one interception as a senior. The Packers signed him with a $7,000 signing bonus.
He was released during the cutdown to 53 players but was in the starting lineup for the opener at Minnesota a week later.
“When you get out there in training camp and you start putting pads on for the first time, you just see different people’s instincts and how they move, and you just want to see what they be like once you get on the field,” safety Adrian Amos said after the game. “Once you get on the field for the first couple games, he just showed he can play ball. He’s out there making plays. He’s got a great feel for defense. He picked it up fast. He’s fast to the ball.”
Barnes’ playing time has come at the expense of veteran Christian Kirksey. In his six fully healthy games, Kirksey played 100 percent of the snaps in all six. The past two weeks, he’s played 68.7 percent and 71.0 percent.
Kirksey has played 501 snaps to 310 for Barnes. Kirksey has 70 tackles, no tackles for losses, one interception, three passes defensed and no forced fumbles or recoveries. Barnes has 57 tackles, one sack, four tackles for losses, no passes defensed and the one forced fumble. On a per-snap basis, Kirksey has a tackle for every 7.16 snaps compared to Barnes’ 5.44 snaps.
"There's no hesitation in this game," LaFleur said as part of the accompanying video. "Once he sees it, he goes."