Paul Perkins figured that the toughest part of being a rookie running back in the NFL would be recognizing the defenses, picking up blitzes, and getting used to the speed of the game.
Not so much, it turns out.
“It’s come quick,” the fifth-round pick told Newsday on Tuesday. “I’m adjusting better than I thought I would.”
Others think so as well.
“I’ve seen flashes, which is always a good thing you want to see out of a young player like him,” running backs coach Craig Johnson said. “He’s made a couple of good catches, he’s had a couple of nice bursts through the line of scrimmage. Like a lot of rookies, he’s unsure, he’s a little hesitant. That’s what happens when you have all the things going on with a rookie at his position. As a young player sometimes they feel their way. He did that early and he’s doing it less and less, which tells me he’s able to play faster and more aggressive.”
Is he getting it more quickly than most rookies?
“I would say yes,” Johnson said.
“Mentally, he seems to be doing fine,” Ben McAdoo added.
Not bad for a player who also missed most of the spring as he completed his schooling at UCLA. Perkins was with the Giants for rookie minicamp, then had to go back to California until the full minicamp. It was a large gap in his learning process with the Giants, one he is still trying to close.
“I feel like I still have a lot of catching up to do just to be where the older guys are at, but I feel like that’s just going to take time, more reps, more film study,” Perkins said. “I’m just trying to grasp all the concepts and how the running back room does things. I’m learning how to follow right now, follow the older guys’ lead, and catch up.”
The real test for Perkins will come in the preseason. That’s when he’ll get the opportunity to be on the field and show that he can pick up those blitzes as well as find the holes and hang onto the football when he’s carrying it, all the things a rookie needs to prove to coaches.
“We’ve got to get him some reps, get him tackled a little bit,” McAdoo said. “See ball security, but like I said before, it’s tough to evaluate runners in a camp situation. You have to get them in games, get them some carries. See if they can deliver blows and absorb some blows as well.”
Eventually, the Giants would like to see him as part of their running back rotation, perhaps even at the head of it (that certainly seems to be the long-term objective, anyhow). “He’s in the mix,” Johnson said of Perkins’ place in the deep competition for carries right now.
When Sept. 11 comes around and the Giants open in Dallas, who knows where he’ll be in that mix. Perkins said he’s not worried about it.
“I just have to go out there and compete now and however they want to use me I’ll do it to the best of my ability,” he said. “I’m just going in to make a huge impact however I can.”