A year ago Connor Barwin was a backup 4--3 defensive end who didn't play a snap after dislocating his right ankle in the opener. Since replacing the injured Mario Williams in Week 5 this season, Barwin has become a linchpin of new coordinator Wade Phillips's 3--4 defense, an outside linebacker with 11½ sacks. Now opponents are devoting extra blockers to the 6'4", 264-pound Barwin or having their QB shorten his drops and make quick throws. "You have to recognize that and get your hands up," said Barwin, who had seven pass deflections. "And then when they keep guys in to protect, you've got to beat the protection and then cover the guys up inside."