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Panthers trade Barner to Philly for 7th-round pick

Bills Panthers Football
MIKE MCCARN - AP
Carolina Panthers running back Kenjon Barner (25) is shown prior to the start of a preseason NFL football game Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Charlotte.

The Panthers traded running back/kick returner Kenjon Barner to the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday night, reuniting the second-year back with Chip Kelly, Barner's coach at Oregon.

In exchange for Barner, Philadelphia sent the Panthers a conditional, seventh-round draft pick in 2015, the teams announced.

Barner, a sixth-round pick in 2013, was in real danger of not making the Panthers' team this year. He failed to take advantage of increased reps at training camp when Jonathan Stewart was sidelined with a hamstring injury and the team initially limited DeAngelo Williams' reps.

Barner, who the Panthers hoped would win one of the return jobs, was eclipsed by running back Fozzy Whittaker as the No. 3 back after Whittaker's strong showing in Sunday night's exhibition win against Kansas City.

Whittaker rushed 13 times for a game-high 71 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs, while Barner gained 18 yards on seven carries. Whittaker ran hard and hit the holes with authority, which Barner had not done all summer.

In two exhibition games, Barner carried 15 times for 26 yards and failed to gain a yard on two punt returns. His only highlight was a 31-yard kickoff return against the Chiefs, but he hadn't done enough to justify a spot on the 53-man roster.

As a rookie, Barner played in eight games, rushing for 7 yards on six carries and catching two passes for 7 yards.

The 5-9, 195-pound Barner added 15 pounds in the offseason, but it didn't seem to help him with his pass-blocking. During blitz pick-up drills at Wofford, Barner was overmatched by nearly every linebacker and defensive back he lined up against.

But Barner will get a fresh start with Kelly, who took over for Andy Reid in Philly before the 2013 season.

“Kenjon will hopefully bring some depth to both our running back and return positions. He’s obviously a guy I know really well from Oregon, where he had a very productive career," Kelly said in a release. "He has a lot of speed, explosiveness and had a knack for making some really big plays. But our plan with him right now is get him in Philadelphia as soon as we can and plug him in at running back and returner and let him compete.”

Barner was an All-American as a senior at Oregon, where he rushed for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Eagles have one of the league's best backfield combinations in LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, but a hamstring injury to Chris Polk could give Barner a shot to become the third back.

Barner thanked the Panthers via Twitter and Instagram for "taking a chance" on him in last year's draft.

"The Panthers will forever have a place in my heart," Barner tweeted. "I am so thankful for the many memories created and lessons learned while with the organization."

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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