These two passages from Vandermause's column on Barnett pretty much tell the story when it comes to the Packers middle linebacker:
There’s no telling how many more games the Green Bay Packers might have won in 2008 with linebacker Nick Barnett in the starting lineup for the entire season...it’s clear the defense desperately missed Barnett’s competitive spirit and playmaking ability during a subsequent string of narrow defeats.
Barnett was not playing at the near-Pro Bowl level he displayed in 2007, but he was leading the team in tackles when he went down.
File the bolded under 'Understatement of the Year'.
Snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2007, Barnett played that entire season like a man possessed, but with a controlled, laser-sharp focus. He almost never over ran plays, he was assignment sure and, especially in the early part of the year, was seemingly always around the ball.
Fast forward to 2008 and, for whatever reason, nothing seemed quite right with Barnett before his knee was blown up on the infamous carpet at the Metrodome. His play seemed to revert a bit in that he was wild and out of control a lot and generally did not seem 'right'. I know that sounds lazy, but any serious Packers observer knows exactly what I mean.
Barnett was asked about his drop in production on more than one occasion, each time dismissing the notion that anything was wrong, either on or off the field. Speculation about his offseason incident in Appleton was discussed, but Barnett was dismissive of that as well, claiming that none of those things were effecting him.
So now the Packers have Barnett set to return, albeit on a limited basis, for the start of training camp on Friday, with all indications being that he will be in the starting lineup on opening night vs. the Bears.
UPDATE: Interesting response to me from Barnett on Twitter:
Well there was a lot of things i chould say happened but i will keep to myself lol
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