Training Camp Preview: Who the Hell is Allen Barbre? Where does he fit?
Allen Barbre is a local man of mystery. A career journeyman and reserve, Barbre’s name has regularly bubbled up when discussing the Eagles season because he’ll replace the (probably) suspended Lane Johnson. What’s strange is that Barbre’s move to a starting role is a forgone conclusion, yet he played only 82 snaps for the Eagles last season. So who the hell is he? Let me explain.
Barbre first came into the league in 2007. A four year starter at Missouri Southern, Barbre was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round with the 119th overall selection. A tackle by trade, Barbre was a little small for his position at 6’4″, 310 pounds and never received much playing time until the 2009 season in which he started seven games. Given that the Packers let Barbre walk as a free agent after that season, it’s fair to say that he didn’t impress.
In 2010, Barbre had a brief stint with Miami, but ultimately caught on with the Seattle Seahawks. In that time Barbre remained in a back-up role, making seven appearances for the Seahawks before being released on October 1st, 2012.
This is where things really get interesting.
Following his release, Barbre didn’t sign on with any teams until after the 2012 season. Then, on January 15th, 2013, the Eagles signed Barbre to a two year contract. On the surface, this isn’t a big deal but it’s important to note that the Eagles announced Chip Kelly’s hiring the next day on January 16th. This means that Barbre was, in essence, the first signing of the Chip Kelly era as his offensive tempo and philosophy was a factor in selecting the undersized, yet athletic tackle.
During his first training camp in Philadelphia Barbre stood out as the Eagles best reserve offensive lineman due to his toughness and ability to get downfield. Naturally, this led to comparisons with Evan Mathis who has been a revelation with the Eagles after a similar, unstable past.
However, like most of my sports career, Barbre sat on the bench. Due to a combination of luck and Chip Kelly’s new conditioning program, the Eagles were fortunate enough to play every game of the season with all five of their starters. As a result, Barbre dind’t get much action until week 10 when the Eagles played a wounded Packers team. He received 51 reps in the game as he subbed in early for an injured Jason Peters and performed admirably. In fact, there were a few instances where knocked the bejeezus out of a one-handed Clay Matthews and helped the running game by breaking through to the second level. However, it was also evident that, due to his smaller size, Barbre was overmatched on the outside at times and was pushed deep into the backfield.
Nevertheless, the Eagles were pleased with Barbre’s performance throughout the year and signed him to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Philly until 2017. At the time, Chip Kelly had this to say about the Eagles top reserve: “Allen has great versatility and his ability to play both outside and inside on the offensive line makes him so valuable to what we do.”
Due to that versatility, Barbre is a must watch during training camp and beyond. The Eagles have a number of options for how to approach Johnson’s possible suspension and so there could be a lot of shuffling over the next few weeks. The Eagles could theoretically:
- Place Barbre in at right tackle for a simple 1-for-1 swap
- Move Barbre to right guard and shift Todd Herremans back to his old right tackle position
- Place Barbre at left guard and test Mathis out as right tackle
All of these scenarios will likely emerge at one point or another, making each rep a potentially season-shaping move.
So now that you know who Allen Barbre is, be prepared for what he’s capable of doing.