Back in February, Kenjon Barner was exulting in a Super Bowl victory over New England as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, he’s among the newest members of the Patriots and trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
“I’m getting there,” he told reporters Friday, just three days after signing with the Patriots. “It’s a lot to learn, a lot to take in, but I’ve had a lot of help to get to where I’m at. I’m feeling pretty comfortable with where I’m at. Still things to learn, obviously, in such a short window of time, but I’m definitely feeling comfortable with the things I do know.”
The 28-year-old running back also doubles as a punt return specialist. Given New England’s current depth issues at both positions, Barner is a legitimate possibility to be active and play a role against the Jaguars this Sunday in Jacksonville. When asked about that, though, he maintained he had no idea what the coaches -- including running backs coach Ivan Fears -- have in store for him, but Barner says he's excited to work with Fears and his new teammates.
He acknowledged that he’s been fielding punts in practices this week, just in case, along with several other Patriots, including former University of Oregon teammate Patrick Chung.
“He’s taken me under his wing again, like he did my freshman year,” added Barner. “Then in the running back room, great group of guys. They have no problem helping me whatsoever.”
Barner became a veteran free agent shortly after Super Bowl LII and wound up signing with Carolina, the team with whom he entered the league back in 2013. That second go-round with the Panthers didn’t last long, however, and Barner found himself jobless until the Patriots called recently to work him out.
“I had a pretty good workout with them, and after meeting with and talking to the scouts, they told me to stay ready, that my phone could ring at any time. Thankful to God that it did.
“You hear things [about the Patriots], being away from here,” remarked Barner. “So, to actually be here and be around this locker room, this organization, I can definitely see the differences from places I’ve been. The way they do things around here is a lot different, but not for me. It reminds me of college. There’s no time wasted. Everything is efficient. The attention to detail here is something I’ve never experienced.”
Since his arrival in Foxborough earlier this week, Barner’s been so busy getting adjusted to the new system, he says he hasn’t had any discussions with any of his new colleagues about that game in Minnesota back in February.
“No one’s really talked about it, but I’m ready,” he chuckled.
And will he be ready if he’s called upon to play on Sunday?
“If I’m the last guy [available], then I’ve got to knuckle up and get it done,” he responded. “That’s the NFL.”