FOXBORO, Mass. — It could wind up being a crazy week for New England Patriots running back Kenjon Barner.
Barner, who previously was with the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, signed with the Patriots on Tuesday and has spent the last four days soaking up as much information about the team’s offense and special teams as he possibly can. Barner is the most likely candidate to return punts for the Patriots on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he’s one of two fully healthy running backs, along with James White, on the 53-man roster.
“It’s a lot to learn, it’s a lot to take in, but I’ve had a lot of help to get to where I’m at,” Barner said. “But 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 that I do know.”
The Patriots’ Week 1 punt returner, Riley McCarron, was cut Monday. Barner’s former Oregon teammate, Patrick Chung, wide receivers Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Corey Coleman, and running back Rex Burkhead, who’s questionable to play with a concussion, are other options to return punts.
Barner doesn’t know what his role will be yet in Week 2.
“None whatsoever,” Barner said. “That’s something that Coach (Bill) Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff has to figure out. And whatever they tell me, that’s what I’m good with.”
With Burkhead dealing with the concussion and rookie running back Sony Michel still coming back from a knee injury, it’s possible Barner could take a big role on offense. Is he ready for whatever the Patriots throw at him?
“If I’m the last guy, then I gotta knuckle up and get it done if I am the last guy, you know what I’m saying?” Barner said. “I just gotta get it done. No ifs, ands or buts about it, that’s the NFL.”
The Patriots also could elect to sign running backs Ralph Webb or Kenneth Farrow off the practice squad.
Barner, who’s 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, has 77 career rushing attempts for 317 yards with three touchdowns. He’s caught 21 passes for 127 yards in four seasons.
Thumbnail photo via Scott Olmos/USA TODAY Sports Images
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