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Panthers sign Kenjon Barner with Whittaker on IR

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Carolina moved quickly to add depth in the backfield one day after placing Fozzy Whittaker on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

The Panthers signed running back Kenjon Barner, the team announced Friday.

The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Barner returns to where his career started. He entered the league in 2013 out of Oregon as a sixth-round pick with the Panthers before being traded in 2014 to the Eagles, where he spent three seasons (2014-16). The Chargers signed Barner to a one-year deal in 2017, but released him in early September leading to another tour of duty with the Eagles to close out the regular season.

The Eagles didn't re-sign Barner during the offseason, but he fully embraced the opportunity for a homecoming in Carolina.

"I'm excited to be back with the team that opened the door for me," Barner said in a statement released by the team. "Everything has come full circle. To have the opportunity to be back here, to be in this Carolina blue is a bit of redemption for me.

"After I was traded, people were like, 'Are you mad?' And I was like, 'Mad about what? Those people were great to me. What reason did I give for them to keep me?' Now for me to be back here, back with Coach (Ron) Rivera and Coach Skip (running backs coach Jim Skipper) -- guys who really believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself -- I'm thrilled about the opportunity."

On his career, Barner has appeared in 44 games, totaling 317 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 77 carries, adding 21 catches for 127 yards.

The Panthers are likely looking to bolster the return unit given the absence of Whittaker, and the team's newest running back should help out immediately in that area.

Barner has 22 career kickoff returns for 498 yards, averaging 22.6 yards per attempt, and 30 career punt returns for 259 yards. He contributed three kickoff returns for 73 yards in the Eagles' recent Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

The Panthers now have Barner, C.J. Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood on the roster. Undrafted running back Reggie Bonnafon is expected to sign before Carolina's two-day rookie minicamp this weekend.

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