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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs GM sounds settled on moving Barber to safety

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 05:42 AM
TAMPA -

After weeks of experimenting with the idea, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have settled on a plan to move five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber to safety.

Speaking on an NFL.com podcast on Wednesday, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik spoke as if Barber will work primarily at safety and play cornerback only if the need arises.

"If we need to make a move to pull Ronde back from safety and down to corner, we can do that in a heartbeat," Dominik said when asked about the potential loss of starting cornerback Aqib Talib.

Talib is scheduled to stand trial in late June on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a shooting incident in Garland, Texas, in March 2011. He faces possible jail time and a league suspension.

With or without Talib, the Bucs appear to have more depth at cornerback than safety, where the only returning regular is Cody Grimm, a third-year pro who suffered season-ending leg injuries each of his first two seasons.

In addition to Barber and Talib, Tampa Bay's starters the past three seasons, the Bucs have three cornerbacks who have started NFL games in Eric Wright, E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis. Wright was signed during free agency.

The situation at safety, meanwhile, prompted the Bucs to pass on the opportunity to draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 5 overall pick and instead traded down two spots before taking former Alabama safety Mark Barron with their first selection.

Barber responded to a text message from The Tampa Tribune on Thursday that he had no comment.

Dominik did not immediately respond to a request.

Barber, who recently signed a one-year, $3 million contract to return for a 16th season, has always expressed a willingness to move to safety.

"I'm fitting where needed,'' he said after working at safety during the team's first minicamp in April. "I'm where there's a loose spot, which I'm all right with right now. It's good, it's fun.

"There is no transition. It's really no different than me playing down in the box all these years. I've done some half-field stuff and some whole-field stuff before, so it's not that much of a transition. It's just slowing my feet down from corner feet to safety feet. It's a bit of a learning curve with the verbiage and the assignments, but it's nothing I can't handle if need be.'

Barber would not be the first Pro Bowl corner to move to safety. The Packers moved Charles Woodson into a hybrid role a year ago where he played corner, safety and even linebacker on occasion.


rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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