FOXBORO, Mass. — Kenjon Barner feels like he’s back in college.
The veteran running back, who signed with the New England Patriots earlier this week, compared the atmosphere around his new team to the one he played in at Oregon under former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly.
“I mean, you hear things being away from here, so to actually be here, be around this locker room and this organization, you can definitely see the differences from places that I’ve been,” Barner said Friday in his first meeting with New England reporters. “The way they do things around here is a lot different than — well, I wouldn’t say for me. I tell people all the time now that I’ve been here, it reminds me a lot of what I did in college with Chip. …
“They don’t waste time. There’s no time wasted. Everything’s efficient. Get our work done. And the attention to detail is something that I’ve never experienced.”
Kelly, a New Hampshire native who now is the head coach at UCLA, is old friends with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
A fellow Oregon product, safety Patrick Chung, has helped Barner learn the ropes in New England.
“My guy Pat Chung,” Barner said. “I went to college with him. He’s taking me under his wing again like he did my freshman year of college. That guy would come to my dorm room and wake me up if I didn’t get up in time. When I would go through things, he came and would talk to me.”
Barner spent the last three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, serving as the primary punt/kick returner for the 2017 Eagles team that defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. He signed with the Carolina Panthers this past spring but was released before final cuts.
It’s likely either Barner or Chung will handle punt return duties in Sunday’s AFC championship rematch between the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images