The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are wrapping up their first week of OTAs under first-year head coach Greg Schiano on Friday. Five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber, the longest-tenured Buccaneer, played exclusively at free safety ,Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com reports.
Barber was teamed on the first-team defense with 2012 first-round pick Mark Barron.
"Coach approached and told me that he wanted the best 11 guys on the field, and we're going to find a way to do that" said Barber. "Whether that's me at free safety or me at corner, eventually, who knows? I've lined up at a bunch a different places.
"If we had to start a game this week, I'm sure that's where I'd be," Barber said of the free safety position. "I haven't taken a (practice) rep at corner yet, so ... we'll see. I'm enthusiastic about the defense. It's going to afford me a lot of opportunities to make plays, so no matter where I line up, I'll think I'll be effective.
Barber, who turned 37 last month, has started 199 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. As more candles get added to his birthday cake, Barber is taking a year-to-year approach to his career.
Signed to a one-year, $4 million contract for the 2011 season, Barber signed another one-year, $3 million contract in March. (An additional $1 million is available in incentives).
The Buccaneers signed Eric Wright to a five-year, $37.5 million contract in March and still have 2008 first-round pick Aqib Talib penciled in as a starter, though Talib's status is contingent upon the outcome of his upcoming assault trial. E.J. Biggers played in over 60 percent of the snaps, was second on the team in passes defensed (10), and figures to return as the nickel corner.
Moving to safety ensures that Barber will play this season, though it won't necessarily prolong his career.
"I don't know. We'll see how this body feels after another year," Barber said. "Go back to that plan of figuring out whether or not I can continue playing, but it's too early for that. We'll see how this season goes. When it's all said and done, hopefully we'll have a reason to be happy and celebrate and be able to make a good decision then."