Kenjon Barner said he got a text from Darren Sproles at 5 a.m. California time Monday, telling him Sproles had torn his ACL.
“I didn’t see the game … I was like, ‘When? How?’ You hate to see it; that’s one of the best guys I’ve met in the league.,” Barner said Wednesday, after signing a one-year deal to return to the Eagles, and practicing with his new/old teammates. “To see him go down like that, it’s terrible. … But this is football, we all know what goes with it.”
Barner didn’t realize it right away Monday, but what came with Sproles’ injury for him was a second shot in Philadelphia. Or maybe a third shot, depending on how you view 2014, when the Eagles waived/injured Barner after a preseason injury, then brought him back to their practice squad. Barner made the roster and saw action in 23 games in 2015 and 2016 as a running back and returner, before signing last spring as a free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers, who released him just before this season began.
The Eagles visit the Chargers this Sunday, and it seems likely Barner will assume Sproles’ punt return role. Sproles, 34, not only tore his left ACL Sunday, but also broke a radius bone in his right arm, and injured wrist ligaments.
Asked the secret to effective punt returning, Barner, 27, said: “Listen to everything Sproles told me.”
Barner said Sproles was happy to hear that Barner would take his place on the roster.
“That’s my guy,” Barner said.
Barner, 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, wore No. 34 in his previous time with the Eagles, but injured rookie Donnel Pumphrey has that jersey now, so Barner is No. 38.