Barry Excelling On Offensive Line


In Green Bay, it's not all that uncommon for a Packer's accomplishments to be rewarded by having something named after that individual.

For example, the team plays its games at Lambeau Field, which is located on Lombardi Avenue. Just a few blocks from the stadium, a street sign will let you know that you're standing at the intersection of Holmgren Way and Brett Favre Pass.

The Packers' playbook is no different.

When the Pack gets down near the goal line or a key short yardage situation comes up, the call goes out for the 'U-71' package to hit the field.

The personnel group takes its name from the large '71' on the chest of third-year offensive lineman Kevin Barry. In this package, the 6-foot-4, 335-pounder comes on to the field as an extra tight end and generally helps pave the way for an Ahman Green first down or touchdown.

Green was a perfect eight-for-eight in crucial third-and-one situations in 2003, the only player in the league to boast a 100 percent success ratio in eight tries or more. Additionally, Barry and his fellow linemen helped to lead the Packers to an NFC-best 65.4 touchdown percentage on trips inside the 20-yard line.

Barry has also made contributions as a valuable backup at multiple positions along the offensive line, having seen action at both tackle spots and at right guard. The Wisconsin native has started four games out of 30 career contests he's played in after making the team as a non-drafted free agent in 2002.

Packers offensive line coach Larry Beightol is quick to praise the young lineman.

"We look upon Kevin as our sixth man on the offensive line," Beightol said. "He's got a wealth of talent and ability. He's an excellent worker. He practices the way we like people to practice. He's a very physical football player."

Barry is continuing to see time in camp at tackle and guard, as well as in his spot in the U-71 set.

"I'm working on being more versatile with all the things I can do," Barry said. "I'm giving the coaches more options in how to use me."

Barry has shown his versatility in the past, starring not only on the gridiron but also throwing the discus and shot put in high school and junior college. He credits his prep coach at Washington Park High in Racine with aiding his rise to the NFL.

"Coach Thompson helped me out with a lot of things that have been useful on both the college and pro level," Barry said. "He helped to give me quick feet and coordination with my hands."

Now Barry is eager to pass along the things he's learned, and continues to learn, to the next generation. Barry has coached track at West De Pere High School the past two springs and plans on returning next year.

"I try to teach them everything I was taught to help them get to be a better athlete than what they are," he said.

Watching Barry get better is something that Beightol expects to experience over the next few years.

"Kevin has had two terrific years for us and the only thing that can keep Kevin Barry from being a future starter for the Green Bay Packers would be Kevin Barry," Beightol gushed. "I have nothing but great things to say about him and I hope he is going to be able to reach that great potential that he has. If he does, the sky's the limit."

For now, Barry will continue to prepare himself to fill in on the line when needed and continue to excel in his U-71 package.

Perhaps he'll even get to live out every lineman's dream of catching a touchdown pass from that extra tight end position of his.

"Maybe one of these days, we'll see," Barry said. "It was in the package last year. No dance for me, though. I'd be happy to get it and do a Lambeau Leap -- on the short wall, not the big one."

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