MOBILE, Ala. -- No one at the Senior Bowl can give Eagles fans a better preview of what to expect from new head coach Chip Kelly than Kelly's former Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. Barner's four seasons at Oregon ran parallel to Kelly's four seasons as head coach, and the two worked quite well together. Barner finished his Oregon career with 3,151 rushing yards, the third-highest total in the program's history.
So what are Barner’s expectations for Kelly's transition to the NFL?
"Greatness," Barner said Tuesday, following his second practice of the week for the North team. "The man's work habits are unreal. He's going to bring greatness to that team, to that program and to that city."
The Eagles offense in particular, Barner says, should be primed for an exciting future.
"When you've got
Barner said that he and most of his Oregon teammates harbor no ill will towards Kelly's decision to leave for the NFL.
"I was extremely happy for him," Barner said. "He deserves everything that he's been given. He's worked hard for it. There's no one more deserving than him.
"He's a guy that wants to go out and prove everyone wrong. If there's a challenge, he wants to meet that challenge and go out and surpass that challenge."
On Monday, Kelly said that his practices with the Eagles aren't likely to have quite the same rapid-fire pace as his Oregon practices, simply because of the disparity in numbers between a college and NFL roster. But Barner said those practices served the team well.
"It's not really the major things he worries about (during practice), he worried about all the minor intricacies of the offense," said Barner. "So it's fast practices focusing on the minor details and getting in the meeting room and focusing on big things then."
On a personal level, Barner, 5-9, 188, is aiming to prove a few things this week. He's been asked during interviews with NFL teams about his willingness to block because he was rarely asked to do so in college.
"A lot of teams want to know if I can block," he said. "That's kind of been a question that I've gotten a lot in meetings, 'Are you willing to block?' And understandably because ... if you haven't seen something, then you have to question it. So hopefully today I was able to show that."
On the flip side, Barner said there are no doubts about his speed and ability to make people miss in the open field.
"I don't think that's been a question," he said with a smile. "Not too many teams are worried about that."
Finally, Barner was asked whether he would embrace a reunion with Kelly in Philadelphia, unlikely as that may be considering the Eagles' depth at running back.
"I absolutely would," Barner said. "Like I said, he's a great coach and not only is he a great coach, he's a great man."
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