Instant analysis: Eagles bring back a familiar running back to replace Darren Sproles

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The loss of Darren Sproles left a huge hole in a backfield that relies on a committee effort heading into week four. Luckily for Doug Pederson, there’s one running back who can help fill that void. After working out Kenjon Barner earlier today, the team announced that they signed the former Oregon Duck to a one-year deal.

 

As one of the last Oregon holdovers from the Chip Kelly regime, Barner played in just 8.7 percent of snaps last year, despite his production when he on the field. After breaking out against the Steelers for a career high 42-yards and his first NFL touchdown, Barner showed an ability to be explosive with the ball in his hands, leading the team with 4.8 yards per carry. He also averaged nearly 31 yards per kick return.

However, as the season went on and the committee effort began to dwindle, the Eagles backfield seemed to turn to Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews more and more often. Barner was lost in the depth chart behind rookie Wendell Smallwood and failed to burst onto the scene in the limited action he did have in the weeks after those strong games against Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

When depth seemed to lack and Barner had a golden opportunity to shine, that chance was stripped away with a season ending hamstring injury which he suffered against the Ravens. Barner ended his final season as an Eagle with 129 yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 attempts.

A flurry of talent injected into the backfield left Barner outside in the cold and eventually traded to the recently re-located LA Chargers. He failed to stand out in preseason, rushing 14 times for 27 total yards. Barner was eventually cut in the final wave of roster moves ahead of the regular season.

Barner brings with him a sense of familiarity to both the locker room and the offensive scheme. Having proven his worth this time exactly one year ago, it’s clear that Barner can be a change-of-pace back if needed or fill in should the injury bug bite even harder. Bonds with Duce Staley and the locker room will be re-ignited in a roster move that makes all too much sense for the Eagles.

 

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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