Allen Barbre exceeding expectations at camp

Allen Barbre exceeding expectations at camp
August 18, 2013, 7:00 pm
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Allen Barbre has started just seven games in his NFL career. (USA Today Images)

Allen Barbre's career has taken him through three teams at three positions and even a four-game suspension prior to spending last season out of football.

The highest player ever drafted out of Missouri Southern State, the 29-year-old journeyman found an opportunity to prove himself with the Eagles. He seized it.

Barring an injury, Barbre has become one of the biggest surprises at camp by all but guaranteeing himself a position as a backup on the Eagles' offensive line because of his ability to play multiple positions.

"Allen, to us, has really solidified his situation with us from a depth standpoint," head coach Chip Kelly said Saturday. "We knew he could play guard, but now to have a guy that's a guard-tackle guy ... I think he's done a nice job."

Barbre filled in at left tackle for the first two preseason games with Jason Peters, Dennis Kelly and Ed Wang out. Since Peters' return Saturday, Barbre has shifted back to left guard, where he spent most of the spring and summer.

"I would say that having versatility does help," Barbre said Sunday after practice at the NovaCare Complex. "Being able to play more than one position when you're not a starter is key."

The six-year pro played all four years of college at left tackle but alternated between left guard and tackle in his first two seasons in Green Bay. He started seven games at right tackle with the Packers in 2009 — the only games he's ever started — before moving back to left guard as a backup with Seattle.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Barbre said playing tackle comes naturally to him, since he spent his entire collegiate career there, but there are significant differences between the two positions — tackles are more about power while guards are more about speed.

"It's a different animal inside — I hate to refer to an animal — it's just a different-natured guy," Barbre said. "You got a speed guy off the edge and inside there's a lot more going on with crosses and linebackers and stuff."

Last season, Barbre tried out for the Eagles around Week 5 but didn't sign. He was released by Seattle earlier in the year after serving a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

"I just took something pre-workout, I wasn't aware that it had something in it," he explained. "I'm done with that, moved on."

Even though he said his agent heard good things from the Eagles, he still hadn't expected to sign with the team in the offseason until it happened. He entered camp as a long shot to make the roster but impressed his coaches and teammates immediately.

"Once he got here in the spring, strong kid, really strong, country boy. I think he's had an awesome preseason," right guard Todd Herremans said. "And from what I saw in the spring, this is what I expected out of him. It seems like he was a good player."

Perhaps the Eagles' scheme is what allowed Barbre to suddenly excel?

"There's a lot of different components that go into that. Coaching mesh, how well you get along with your coach, the scheme," Herremans said. "He's healthy right now. Maybe he wasn't healthy before. And plus the opportunity came up, and when it showed up he took care of it."

Whatever it is, the former fourth-round pick from the small school is glad he's still hanging on.

"I don't think I'm ever going to get complacent or satisfied, I think that's just setting somebody up for disaster," Barbre said. "I just keep working, I always want to work hard and that's what got me here."