Kenjon Barner

Former Patriots RB Kenjon Barner reveals what being on the team was really like

Former Patriots RB Kenjon Barner reveals what being on the team was really like

What is the New England Patriots locker room really like?

That is the question that has plagued mankind for centuries, or at least since 2000 when Bill Belichick became head coach and changed the franchise's fate forever. 

20 years later, Belichick is still going strong and the Patriots have won six Super Bowls during his tenure. 

It helped that he had Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time under center, but Belichick was the man that called the shots.

On Monday, former Oregon Ducks running back Kejon Barner joined The Brian Noe Show to talk about his time in New England. 

Barner played for the Patriots in 2018 and he used his first-hand experience to give host Brain Noe a glimpse of what Patriot life is like. 

The former Oregon Duck admitted he was nervous to enter the Patriots locker room based on what he had heard. 

But, when he arrived, his eyes were opened.

"It's a special place," said Barner. "There's a standard of excellence that they have and you're either gonna live up to it or you're not, and if you're not, you won't be there for too long."

That standard of excellence has made the Patriots one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports. 

It's that success, coupled with Coach Belichick's constant grumpy face, that leads outsiders to believe that the Patriots locker room is all business, all the time. Barner says that couldn't be further from the truth. 

I had a ton of fun. That was something that was obviously a concern. I wanna have fun playing this game. I wanna enjoy it. I wanna laugh. I wanna be goofy. I wanna be who I am. I wanna be the goofy guy that I am. It wasn't like this is strictly business, you're not gonna have fun. That was just as fun as any other locker room I've been in. When we worked, we worked. There is a time for work and there is a time for play. But when you worked you were gonna work. But outside of that, it's no different than any other locker room. Same goofy guys laughing, joking around, playing around. It's a locker room, no different than any other place. It's just, when it's time to work, you are going to work... and you're going to work."

If you noticed, Barner put some emphasis on work. That is what set the Patriots apart. When it was time to work, it was time to put the joking aside to get the job done. 

"That's what a learned there. If you walked into that organization, you did the things you were supposed to do, carried yourself as a professional athlete, you came to work every day, grinded hard, did the things that were required of you, you don't have a problem at all," said Barner. "But for the guys that come in and they aren't accustomed to that type of locker room environment where when it's time to work you actually have to work, there's gonna be a problem for you."

Barner spent just five games with the Patriots, and spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons where he was the team's primary punt returner. Barner h 35 punt returns for 267 yards and a single touchdown. He also had 17 kick returns for 406 yards.

Barner is currently a free agent and is continuing to train while waiting for his phone to ring. 

Kenjon Barner: Oregon was 'finesse because we were blowing everybody out', not soft

Kenjon Barner: Oregon was 'finesse because we were blowing everybody out', not soft

"Oregon is soft."

We've all heard it before no matter how uneducated the statement is. 

When the program entered the nation's elite under Chip Kelly, they constantly got criticized for winning games the "wrong way". For being too "finesse".

Former Ducks running back Kenjon Barner joined The Brian Noe Show and discussed what Oregon thought about being called "soft" by the national discourse.

We got tired of hearing it. We knew who we were. We were 'finesse' because we were blowing everybody out and made it look good, so of course they would label us as finesse.... We weren't having to grind games out... because we were done by halftime in the majority of our games. - Kenjon Barner

He's right. 

Barner played for Oregon from 2008-2012, but the Ducks were in the national championship conversation his final three seasons in Eugene. Those years, Oregon outscored their opponents by 24.9 (2010), 19.3 (2011) and 26.2 (2012) points per game. While other teams were grinding out games in the fourth quarter, the only drama those at Autzen Stadium saw was if the walk-on quarterback would take a snap.

But when the Ducks did play teams that could challenge them, they always stepped up to the occasion. 

When it was time to be physical and compete with those guys, with those teams that were considered the most physical teams in college football... We did well and surpassed what people thought we could do. - Kenjon Barner

Two opponents, in particular, stand out to prove Barner's point: Auburn and Stanford. 

You look at the National Championship Game we had against Auburn. SEC school. Known as a physical defense, physical offense. Cam [Newton] running the ball at the time. And I don't think Cam had been hit like that all year long. There were plays where Cam literally laid on the ground after he got hit... You could see it in his face. 

Oregon ultimately lost to Auburn off a walk-off field goal, but if Dyer was called down the game probably enters overtime with Oregon having all the momentum. The Ducks, going up against Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, held the Auburn offense to 22 points, its second-lowest scoring output of the season. 

The Ducks also blew out top-ranked Stanford teams led by Andrew Luck in 2010 and 2011.

You look at our games against Stanford. We had some physical battles, especially those 2010, 2011 years where Stanford's defense was really Stanford's defense. 

The Cardinal prided themselves on winning games in the trenches and being the more physical team on the field but walked off the field losers against the Ducks. In 2010, the Ducks fell behind early 21-3 but finished the game on a 49-10 run to win 52-31 against No. 9 Stanford in Autzen Stadium. The following season, a change of field didn't matter as the No. 7 Ducks blew out No. 4 Stanford on the road, 53-30. 

So no, the Ducks were not soft. They were elite. 

We heard it all the time and it was never something that we put emphasis on because we knew who we were as a team. We knew who we were as players and when it came time to be [tough] we knew that we could. 

Now with Mario Cristobal at the helm, that idea has shifted as Oregon now wins games in the trenches and has been one of the country's most physical teams. But football has been played like that in Eugene for a long time, not just the past few seasons. 

ICYMI - Kenjon Barner gifts dad with a special gift for Fathers Day

kenjon barner instagram

ICYMI - Kenjon Barner gifts dad with a special gift for Fathers Day

ICYMI - It is the Fathers Day gift that keeps on giving.

Former Oregon football running back Kenjon Barner gifted his dad for Fathers Day his Super Bowl 52 ring. 

“My Number 1 inspiration! We made a pact way back in 2004 “You do your part, I do mine, What’s mine is yours and what’s yours mine” we’ve done exactly that! Love you Daddy I could never repay you for everything you have given to me and taught by setting an example on what a father is supposed to look like, be like and do! I never had to look for you because You were at every game, every practice, every sport from NJB, AAU, baseball, and football high school and college all the way up until I made to the league! I love you and thank you if I am half the father you are to me to my kids, they have the second greatest father of all time because I have the GREATEST! Love you Daddy.”

And in a second post later:

“This means more to me than anything, being able to see the happiness that this stuff brings my Dad means the world to me! This why I do what I do, the joy that my family gets from this game I play, is my why!” said Barnes in his Instagram post. 

Barner played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-17, and won the Super Bowl his final year with the team. The second ring comes from his short stint with the New England Patriots last season.

Now, the six-year player finds himself on his fifth team with the Atlanta Falcons on a one-year contract. Fun Fact: Barner and Tony Brooks-James both found roster spots on Atlanta this upcoming season.

Where are the #ProDucks, #ProBeavs and other NFL players with local connections?

USA Today

Where are the #ProDucks, #ProBeavs and other NFL players with local connections?

Free agency and player movement have led to some familiar faces from the area finding new addresses and opportunities while some others have called it a career. 

Former Oregon defensive lineman Haloti Ngata retired last week after 13 seasons and could be bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Oregon offensive lineman Max Unger also retired, and although he probably won't end up in the Hall of Fame, he should be considered the second best offensive linemen to ever come out of UO.

[ALSO READ: Max Unger leaves NFL as one of the best OL products Oregon has produced

Offensive lineman Andy Levitre (Oregon State) was released by Atlanta. He spent most of last season on injured reserve with a torn bicep.  His career could also be over. 

Finding yet another job is former UO running back Kenjon Barner, who signed as a free agent with Atlanta. Barner has played Carolina, Philadelphia, New England, then Carolina again and now the Falcons. 

Former Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is looking for a job after spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Rams. Mike Remmers (Oregon State) was released by Minnesota on Mar. 11.  Linebacker D.J. Alexander (OSU) is a free agent. 

Receiver De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), who fractured his leg during practice on Oct. 11, remains a free agent. Defensive lineman Dion Jordan, (Oregon) who was with Seatttle last season, remains a free agent.

Ndamukong Suh, the defensive tackle out of Nebraska and Grant High School, is a free agent. He spent last season with the Rams. 

Below is a team-by-team list of former Ducks, Beavers and others from around the state, currently on NFL rosters. If we've missed anyone, please let us know with an email to



  • Joe Walker, Oregon, linebacker: Signed away from Philadelphia's practice squad last September. Appeared in 14 games and had eight tackles. 





  • Kenjon Barner, Oregon, running back: Signed as a free agent this week. 
  • Sean Harlow, Oregon State, guard: Signed to the practice squad in October after being released by the Colts. 
  • Rocky Ortiz, Oregon State, running back. 












  • None.





  • Kyle Long, Oregon Ducks, guard: Signed a new contract this offseason. 
  • Ryan Nall, Oregon State (Central Catholic H.S., Portland), running back: Spent last season on the practice squad.  
























    • Evan Baylis, Oregon, tight end: Signed to the Packers' practice squad in December and to a futures contract in January. 
    • Eddie Pleasant, Oregon, safety: Signed by the Packers in December. 





    • Brennan Scarlett, California and Stanford (Central Catholic H.S., Portland). 





    • Josh Andrews, Oregon State, gaurd: Signed off the Eagles practice squad in December. 




    • None. 




    • Henry Mondeaux, Oregon Ducks, defensive line: Signed a futures contract in January. Spent some time last season with New Orleans. 




    • Arrion Springs, Oregon Ducks, cornerback: Spent last season on the practice squad for Kansas City, Oakland, Cleveland and New Orleans. 












    • None.





    • Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (West Salem H.S.), punter: Signed a one-year deal this month. 
    • Patrick Chung, Oregon Ducks, safety





    • None. 








    • None. 












    • Kameron Canaday, Portland State, long snapper: Played special teams. 
    • Steven Nelson, Oregon State, defensive back: Signed a $25 million contract this week. 
















    • Byron Marshall, Oregon Ducks, running back: Resigned with Washington for $725,000.  

    Kenjon Barner reunites with former Oregon mentor in New England

    USA Today

    Kenjon Barner reunites with former Oregon mentor in New England

    Former Oregon running back Kenjon Barner last suited up for a NFL game that mattered as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when they defeated New England in Super Bowl LII. 

    Fast forward seven months later and Barner finds himself in the lair of his former enemy as a new member of the Patriots, who signed him this week to help the team solve its running back depth issues.

    There, he discovered a familiar face in former Oregon safety Patrick Chung, who was a senior in 2008 when Barner redshirted with the Ducks. 

    “He’s taken me under his wing again, like he did my freshman year,” Barner told reporters.

    Barner became available after Carolina - the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2013 - released him during roster cuts following the preseason. He had signed with the Panthers after leaving the Eagles as a free agent. Now Barner must learn a third offensive system in less than a year and do so in a few days in case he is called upon to play Sunday at Jacksonville (1-0). 

    “It’s a lot to learn, a lot to take in, but I’ve had a lot of help to get to where I’m at...," Barner said. "Still things to learn, obviously, in such a short window of time, but I’m definitely feeling comfortable with the things I do know.”

    New England (1-0) was dealt a blow when running back Jeremy Hill was lost for the season with a knee injury during the team's win Sunday over Houston. Hill's misfortune created an opportunity for Barner, who also returns punts. 

    There is a chance Barner won't be activated on Sunday. There is also a chance he could play, and play a lot.  One thing for sure is that Barner said he can definitely feel the Patriots differ from other NFL teams he has played for, but not different from his playing days at Oregon.   

    "The way they do things around here is a lot different [from NFL teams], but not for me," Barner said. "It reminds me of college. There’s no time wasted. Everything is efficient. The attention to detail here is something I’ve never experienced.”

    Dazzling UO running backs: The locks, contenders and long shots

    Dazzling UO running backs: The locks, contenders and long shots

    Who will be the next president of Running Backs University?

    Oregon football has an elite history of dazzling running backs. Jonathan StewartLegarrette BlountLaMichael JamesKenjon Barner and Royce Freeman; all 1,000-yard rushers. If we look even farther back, Reuben Droughns (1998-99) and Derek Loville (1986-89) also should be added to the list of all-time greats.

    The past four seasons, Oregon could count on Freeman, who carried the bulk of the rushing load and holds Oregon’s career rushing yards record (5,621) and career touchdowns record (60).


    Those are some pretty big cleats to fill. Here is a look into the locks, contenders and long shots at one of the most important UO positions.


    Tony Brooks-James, senior: Enters his senior season with 2,375 career all-purpose yards with 1,557 rushing yards, 399 kick return yards and 319 receiving yards. Brooks-James landed on the Doak Walker award watch list following his second straight year with 1,000 all-purpose yards despite not being a full-time starter.

    He’s a weapon on special teams and was the only Pac-12 player with a kickoff return for a touchdown in 2017.

    Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said Brooks-James has bulked up about 12 pounds to 190 this season. He is listed as the second-fastest player in the country, according to both Bleacher Report and His increased size and fierce speed makes him the front-runner to win the starting nod at running back.

    "I think that when you combine all of these factors and TBJ's want-to, and the realization that this is his senior year, he has created a better running back room," Cristobal said. 

    Taj Griffin, senior: Listed as a running back after spending last season as slot receiver, it’s Griffin’s last UO season to shine. In his last two seasons, he’s had just 55 carries but has shown peeks into his lethal speed and playmaking ability.

    In 2015 as a freshman, Griffin was the team's second option at running back and finished the year with 732 all-purpose yards, 570 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

    “Taj is healthy, so he is in a real good place now,” Cristobal said. “He has worked his tail off and he’s going to be a significant part of our offense.”

    [WATCH: A game of would you rather with UO QB Justin Herbert]

    CJ Verdell, redshirt freshman: Coming off a productive offseason, Verdell showed off his breakaway speed in UO’s spring game. The three-star rushed for a team-high 44 yards on eight carries, scoring both of Oregon's two rushing touchdowns during the game.

    UO coaches and teammates rave about Verdell’s power and toughness, and if not for an ankle injury, he may not have been redshirted last season. Verdell has been “dinged up” and missed a week of fall camp, but is expected to be available for Oregon’s opener against Bowling Green, according to Cristobal.

    Verdell rushed for 2,399 yards and 36 touchdowns at Mater Dei high school.


    Cyrus Habibi-Likio, redshirt freshman: The 6-2, freshman is Oregon's tallest and heaviest running back. He’s listed at 207 pounds on the roster but is now weighing in at 215 pounds thanks to Coach Feld’s rigorous strength program. Expect him to be utilized as a heavier, power back and as a weapon on special teams. His goal is to create mismatches in the slot.

    “Cyrus has got power, he’s fast and he’s got really good hands,” Cristobal said. “He’s a very instinctive player and he’s played defense so he is all over the field on special teams.”

    Habibi-Likio models him game and looks up to former Oregon running back Legarrette Blount.

    Darrian Felix, sophomore: Saw action in nine games last season as a true freshman. He carried the ball 30 times for 182 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scored once.

    The 5-11, 191-pound sophomore is the only running back besides Brooks-James and Griffin with on-field experience. His explosive lateral quickness makes him an intriguing option. Felix has been practicing with a a non-contact red uniform but should be cleared in time for the opener.


    Travis Dye, freshman: Enrolled early at Oregon for spring football after rushing for 2,383 yards and 34 touchdowns as a high school senior at Norco High school in California. In the UO spring game, he rushed for 12 yards on five carries.

    Dye has four older brothers that have played (or are playing) college football, including star Duck linebacker, Troy.

    Dye has recently returned from injury and is full-go, he has seen some practice reps with the No.1 offense.

    [READ: How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon]

    Noah Dahl, sophomore: A walk-on from Silverton high school in Oregon. He led Silverton to the 5A state title game as a junior while being named to the All-State first team as a defensive back and kicker. As a senior running back he was named to the Class 5A All-State second team and the Mid-Willamette Conference first team.

    Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

    Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

    The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 2)...: RB Tony Brooks-James emerges

    The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 2)...: RB Tony Brooks-James emerges

    Oregon's promising 2017 season ended with a wild two weeks that saw Willie Taggart depart for Florida State, coach Mario Cristobal take over the program, recruits decommit left and right and then the Ducks fall flat during a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Still, the 2018 season could see Oregon return to Pac-12 prominence. That is, if a lot of variables play out in the Ducks' favor. We will take a position-by-position look at the team to discuss what must happen in order for Oregon to rise again in 2018. 

    Other position entries: QuarterbackRunning backsReceivers/Tight endsOffensive lineDefensive backs; LinebackersDefensive line.   


    Today: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 2)...: RB Tony Brooks-James emerges. 

    Key departures: Senior Royce Freeman moved on to the NFL after breaking nearly every school record imaginable.  Versatile senior backup Kani Benoit is also gone.  

    Projected 2017 starter: Tony Brooks-James, RSr., (5-9, 175),

    Key backups: Darrian Felix, Soph., (5-11, 178); C.J. Verdell, RFr., (5-8, 192); Taj Griffin, Sr., (5-11, 178); Cyrus Habibi-Likio, RFr., (6-0, 208). 

    What we know: Freeman is gone. Let's all take a moment to reflect on his greatness.

    Now, let's take a moment to reflect on what his absence could mean for Oregon.


    Then toss in the loss of Benoit. 

    Double yikes!

    Oregon hasn't lost this much running back talent in one offseason since maybe ever. But, in typical Oregon tradition, there is a potentially great running back waiting in the wings. 

    Brooks-James has rushed for 1,557 yards in his career on 226 carries (5.9 per carry) and has scored 14 rushing touchdowns. If he managed to put up those same numbers in one season, the Ducks will be in business. 

    Essentially, Oregon needs Brooks-James to become the next Kenjon Barner, who after backing up LaMichael James for three seasons, rushed for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in 2012. 

    What we don't know: Can Brooks-James be that guy? And, will he truly need to?

    At a listed 178 pounds, it might be a lot to ask of James to carry the ball 20 times per game and survive the season. If he isn't up to the task, the Ducks do have options, albeit of the unproven variety. 

    Felix saw minimal time as a freshman and gained 182 yards. The real wild card is Verdell, who by all accounts is the next great UO running back in waiting. He redshirted in 2017 due to injuries and ample depth already in place. 

    We can't ignore Griffin, who was moved to wide receiver last season but still received some carries. He has 848 career rushing yards in his career on 6.1 yards per carry. 

    Habibi-Likio has a lot of ground to make up on the depth chart in order to crash the rotation next season. But he does offer more bulk at 208 pounds than every other running back, except maybe Verdell, who packs 192 pounds on his 5-8 frame.  

    What must happen for Oregon to contend: Clearly, Oregon must be able to run the ball well in order to succeed. Ideally, the Ducks will have a clear No. 1 back, and that man should be Brooks-James. But he doesn't have to match the level of play displayed in the past by the likes of Jonathan Stewart, James, Barner or Freeman. Brooks-James could simply be what Byron Marshall was in 2013 when he rushed for 1,068 yards and 14 touchdowns while Thomas Tyner chipped in 711 rushing yards and De'Anthony Thomas went for 594. 

    If Oregon gets that type of production out of its top three running backs in 2018, the Ducks will be just fine. 

    Next up: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 3)...: Someone compliments WR Dillon Mitchell.