Getting to Know Samaje Perine as Lead Back

Rob Kelley is out for the season. Last week, Chris Thompson was ruled out for the season. In his first opportunity in the NFL as the sole back last week, rookie Samaje Perine shined, racking up 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 rushing attempts. Even though the Redskins signed Byron Marshall off the Eagles’ practice squad, and might add some more depth in the weeks to come, Perine looks to be getting the bulk of the carries for the remainder of the season. Let’s get to know him as a runner.

  1. Perine is strong. I mean strong. You probably already knew this, since it is all any announcer says about Perine, but it is still worth mentioning. Perine isn’t just stronger than your average back, he’s stronger than your average offensive lineman too. He put up more bench press reps (30) at the combine than any RB, and more than all but four offensive lineman his year. Really think about what that means. He’s got more strength than most people trying to tackle him. This can be a huge asset in the NFL if he uses it right.
  2. With great strength comes…average speed. Perine’s 40 time of 4.65 is fine, but nothing really special. This is what you should expect from someone that strong, but it still might keep him from breaking away for big gains, and certainly keeps him from filling Chris Thompson’s role as a top catch-and-run back.
  3. He is streaky. In college, Perine once ran for a record 427 yards in a game, and had plenty of 200+ games, but also failed to reach 100 yards a lot. He would never produce a long string of 100+ games. From the limited sample we have in the NFL, Perine seems to be following this pattern. In the five games in which he’s had a lead back’s workload, he has averaged 2.6, 3.2, and 5.1 yards per carry.
  4. He is injury prone. A power back like Perine who power through the line every time tend to get pretty banged up week-to-week. Watch for Byron Marshall to take a few snaps from him to keep him healthy.


The bottom line about Perine is that the Saints defense is not a fair test. Don’t expect him to rush for 100+ yards week-to-week, and don’t think the Chris Thompson injury doesn’t hurt. Perine can use his strength to help him fill a Rob Kelley, power back role (possibly better than Kelley himself), but don’t expect him to transform the Redskins run game.

David Miller

David is a senior at George Mason High School, and a lifetime D.C. sports fan.

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