The Redskins will get a better look at what Samaje Perine offers at the running back position, as the rookie has been bumped into the lead back spot in place of Rob Kelley.
He just needs more opportunities.
That was the message Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden preached each time he was asked about rooking running back Samaje Perine during one of his press conferences over the last few months.
Despite being drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, there were high expectations on Perine to be an immediate contributor. NFL.com even pegged Perine as a sleeper for Offensive Rookie of the Year, noting that his downhill running style "perfectly suited" Washington's power-based scheme.
Perine, however, hasn't yet showed his full potential through the first nine games of the season. The Oklahoma product has recorded just 66 carries for 210 yards (3.2 yards per carry) with no rushing touchdowns. In two games this season, Perine didn't even see an offensive snap.
He's also been at the center of two fumbles, one of which was credited to the 22-year-old.
Perine, will finally have the chance to show more than what's been seen so far, though, as he's being pushed to the No. 1 back role after Rob Kelley was placed on Injured Reserve this week.
"I just want to see more production," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden this week when he was asked about what he wants to see out of Perine. "That's all, and he's got to get the opportunity. We've got to see, like I said, if we have a guy unblocked in the hole, it's run him over or make him miss, something, or make sure we continue to get positive yards and keep the chains in favorable down and distance and avoid the negative plays. He's going to get better and better the more reps he gets and the more carries. So we will get a great look at him."
Gruden also expects Perine to be a more consistent threat in the backfield with more carries under his belt in the NFL. While at Oklahoma, Perine mostly received the ball out of the shotgun formation.
"He's a guy that never ran out of the I-formation in college, so this is all new to him," Gruden said. "He's good out of the shotgun, but we've just got to keep giving him the ball. Like I said the other day, I think he's a guy that'll get better with more carries. He's such a physical guy that I think the more carries he gets, he'll wear down a defense.
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Washington Redskins selected running back Samaje Perine with the 114th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"He's not so much a spell guy, he's more of a 'run it, run it, run it,' type guy. Hopefully we get him some reps, get a great look at him, and he performs well, which we think he will."
Perine himself said he needs to be more patient whenever his number is called in formations he may not be as familiar with so far.
"Everything is right there extremely quick," Perine said. "Like in the gun, you have an opportunity. ...It's just the reps. You just have to get the reps and once the reps build up and once you get more comfortable in the situation, then things start to slow down for you and once you get comfortable in the offense, you know where everyone is going to be so you can anticipate what the line is doing, what the defense is doing, and you just go from there."
As for the fumbles and handoff issues, quarterback Kirk Cousins believes that the two will get a better feel for their exchanges.
"Those are certainly the kind of errors that can quickly change the course of a game and so they need to be avoided at all costs," Cousins said.
While Perine will slide into the role Kelley manned when he was healthy, Washington's running game corrections won't all be placed on the 5-foot-11, 236 pounder.
The Redskins' leading rusher is Chris Thompson at 277 yards and two touchdowns. He'll continue to play the role he excels in while new roster addition Byron Marshall could receiver some snaps as well.
Together, the trio will look to get the Redskins' 23rd-ranked rushing attack by on track.
"We drafted Samaje to come in and be a good guy, a big contributor to us. With Rob out now, it's on me and him, and we just got], and that's three to fill the void and just go out there and do whatever we can do to help us win games," Thompson said.