Barron, the second-year safety who came aboard as the seventh-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, suffered a hamstring strain in the Bucs’ pre-bye week game against Arizona. The team is cautiously confident that the extra rest will be enough for Barron to recover in time for its Week Six game against Philadelphia, and that’s important because the former Alabama star is rapidly becoming an indispensible figure in the Bucs’ defense.
Barron’s role is certainly unique, or at least uniquely suited to his talents. While he teams with All-Pro
“Especially in this day and age when you’ve got the tight ends that are like receivers and you’ve got teams going four-wide or you have a running back that all of a sudden is split out – he helps you with those matchups,” said Jeff Hafley, the Buccaneers’ secondary-safeties coach. “You can blitz him like a linebacker, you can put him on a tight end who’s like a receiver or you can put him on a wideout. Or you can just keep him back at safety. It’s a good guy to have, and a good versatility to have.”
Barron had a fine rookie season, though he was overshadowed to some extent by two other Buccaneer newcomers who had flashier debuts. Running back
The arrival of Goldson has helped make that potential more obvious. Through just four games this season, Barron has already racked up a team-high 30 tackles plus, one sack, two quarterback hits, and interception and two passes defensed. Moreover, he has thrived in his new role and given the Buccaneers’ defense many more alignment options.
“His progress has been huge, and it’s kind of what we expected,” said Hafley. “From the time the  season ended, he’s been driven and focused. You can see it in his eyes, you can see it in the meeting room, and he’s playing confident right now. He’s playing physical, he’s been playing confident, he’s covering well and he’s really been a leader back there. He’s got a lot on his plate mentally and he’s done an awesome job with it. Playing down in the box, playing deep, covering backs, covering receivers…and the thing is, there’s still room for improvement, which is really exciting. He’s playing good, and he knows he’ll be playing better.”
Martin remains the Bucs’ offensive workhorse and is on pace for a whopping 400 carries. David has been as impactful as ever, and his 2.5 sacks indicate that he’s added another element to his all-around game. But it’s Barron who is taking the biggest step forward in his second year, and that combined with his ability to thrive in so many different roles has been a big part of the Bucs’ defensive improvement in 2013.“He is definitely as improved as any of the guys that we have,” said Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan. “His second time around, his confidence level is such that, he knows our defense so he’s not swimming as far as assignments, and he’s had enough success in NFL games that he knows he can just line up and he can play. He can cover guys, he can run support. He knows he can play, and he’s enjoying it.”