LATROBE — Mark Barron came here from the Los Angeles Rams looking for another winning program, and believes he’s found one lining up next to rookie Devin Bush as inside linebackers with the Steelers.
Both players are top-10 draft picks and both run like safeties and hit like linebackers. Barron, though, is an eighth-year NFL vet who’s next game that counts will be against the team he played last Super Bowl.
For these reasons, Barron is our go-to choice to put a wrap on a Steelers training camp that ends today.
Q: You had said earlier that Devin impressed you. After Friday’s game, do you have a better impression of him?
MB: He did what I expected him to do. He went out and made plays. He was comfortable, which he has been out here in practice as far as communication and making calls and things like that. He went out and did what I expected him to do — pretty much [chuckle]. And, yeah, it was impressive, very impressive.
Q: You also had said it was important for Devin to get better in order to push you. Who was your mentor when you were a rookie?
MB: I was a DB, playing safety at the time, so I had Ronde Barber. I learned a lot from him. For a guy playing 16 years, obviously his focus was taking care of his body, so that’s what I learned more than anything, taking care of your body because that’s one of the most important things in the NFL. So that was the majority of what I learned from my vet. I did learn some football from him, but the majority of it was trying to stay on top of taking care of your body and maintaining it.
Q: What was your impression of Heinz Field last Friday night?
MB: It was cool. I’m in my eighth season so I’ve seen it all, and I actually played at Heinz Field on a game day even though I was on the other team. So I know what the environment is like. It was good. It was good to get out there and get my feet wet being in the black and yellow.
Q: I doubt that fans mistook you for Le’Veon Bell, or even Rod Woodson, with that number 26. It’s a hallowed number here.
MB: Is it?
Q: Yeah. Bell, Woodson, Deshea Townsend, even Rocky Bleier wore it as a rookie.
MB: I do know Rod, and I know about Le’Veon, but I don’t know that much about the history besides those two.
Q: What about coming here? Has it been everything you had hoped?
MB: I just wanted a winning environment. That’s what it’s all about for me, especially at this point. I want to win. My first winning season in the league was my sixth year. I had been on teams where we just weren’t getting it done. I’m not going back to that. I’ve never been about losing; it just so happened I was a part of it. And, I want to be a part of a winning culture and I feel like we have that here.
Q: What are you seeing?
MB: More than anything I would say the level of competition and the way we work. We go out and we work. We work smart. We get what we need to get done when we’re out on the field, and I feel like that’s the key. That’s super important, to actually get what you need to get out of going on the field, because sometimes you can go out on the field and some people might just go through the motions and waste time. We don’t do that. We go in and get what we need to get out of the practices, even in meetings. Everything we need to get done, we get it done. That’s important.
Q: Is this team coming together?
MB: Yeah. Honestly, I felt the team was kind of close when I first got here, even when I first walked in the locker room, just seeing guys in the locker room and how they interacted with each other. I didn’t really know what to expect because I was on the outside looking in. You had all the stuff that was going on with the media and all of that. But when I got here I didn’t see any of that. I still don’t see it.
Q: The last team you played is the next team you’ll play. Are you able to help this team beat the Patriots in any way? And do you have more motivation because of losing the Super Bowl to them?
MB: Yeah, I’m most definitely motivated. I don’t like to lose, so most definitely I’m motivated going into the game. I’m sure I’ll be able to help. Just being a football player I plan on helping. But are you talking about schematically knowing the Patriots?
MB: Well, maybe; maybe not. I mean, they played the Patriots last year also. We have tape against the Patriots playing this defense, and that’s kind of what you want to go off of. That was a different defense than what I was playing in, so you kind of want to go off how they attack this defense.
Q: So that tape can help you and you can help them.
MB: Yeah, yeah, basically.