On Tuesday, the Eagles sent a seventh-round draft pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for running back Kenjon Barner. The Eagles traded for Barner amidst a running back injury epidemic. Matthew Tucker, Chris Polk, and David Fluellen were all injured for the Eagles second preseason game last Friday. On Wednesday, the team followed the deal by releasing Fluellen.
Barner, a 6.2 yard rusher at Oregon, is very familiar with Chip Kelly’s unique offense. Barner possess lethal speed, a quality Chip Kelly has been fond of as a coach. As a running back with pure agility, Barner will provide more competition on special teams as a cover man and a returner.
In truth, Barner appears to be somewhat of an heir-apparent to newly-acquired back Darren Sproles. The two share an incredibly similar playing style: speed and versatility. If Barner sticks around on the final roster or practice squad for a year or two, he may well replace Sproles when the former Saint leaves the Eagles.
Barner will have a small dose of action Thursday against Pittsburgh, and may return a few kickoffs with Josh Huff injured. His main opportunity will be next week against the Jets, when he will take ample reps as a running back and returner. If a change of scenery is what he needed, Barner came to the right place: it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.
UPDATE: Eagles have traded Fluellen to Indianapolis for K Cody Parkey.