Redskins RB Perine eager for opportunity Sunday
(TSX / STATS) -- ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins rookie running back Samaje Perine has a golden opportunity to establish himself as a primary running back when he starts this Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
Perine, 22, takes over for starter Rob Kelley, who was placed on injured reserve this week (sprained MCL, left knee; high-ankle sprain). The 2017 fourth-round draft pick started one game for the oft-injured Kelley -- Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders -- but ball-security issues and a general lack of production led to a reduction in playing time.
Perine has just 26 carries since that Raiders game and twice -- in Week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles and Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys -- didn't have any carries and only played on special teams.
After Kelley was hurt in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Perine had nine carries for 35 yards (3.9 yards per carry).
"You can practice it all you want, you can look over film, but actually getting those full-speed reps, that's really gonna help when it comes to knowing how the speed is and how everything is put together," Perine said.
The Minnesota game was encouraging. The Redskins need him to be productive. With Chris Thompson's snaps limited on purpose because of his injury history, Perine will get a lot of the hard work inside the tackles. Thompson leads Washington in rushing yards (277) and receiving yards (494).
"Confidence is always going to be a big trait as you play longer in this league, and he's become a more confident player as he's gone through different experiences," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "He's always run the ball really hard and I think he does a great job with that; I told him so after the game against the Vikings."
Perine's adjustments to the pro game continue. He was a force in college as a 5-foot-10, 236-pound back with the speed to run past defenders and the power to run over them. He finished his career at Oklahoma with 4,122 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns. Washington was ready to move on from Matt Jones, its third-round pick in 2015, and snagged Perine in the fourth round. But he has yet to have a breakout game.
"I'm getting there. I wouldn't say I'm quite there yet," Perine said. "But I've definitely taken strides in the right direction in terms of that. But it's coming along pretty good."
SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 17-8, and have won four of the past five meetings, including a 47-14 win on Nov. 15, 2015. Washington's last visit to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was Week 1 of the 2012 season when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III (19-of-26 passing, 320 yards, two touchdowns, 42 rushing yards) made his NFL debut in a 40-32 win.
--The Redskins signed running back Byron Marshall away from the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad on Tuesday with starter Rob Kelley on injured reserve. Marshall was at his first practice on Wednesday. He is a versatile player with 1,000-yard seasons at both wide receiver and running back at Oregon, but went undrafted in 2016.
"I was just leaving the building the other day when they told me. I was happy," Marshall said. "Philly is doing their thing over there, but I was ready to play and felt like I had ample opportunity to be up over there and just didn't get the call."
--Left tackle Trent Williams (right knee) and tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) did not participate in Wednesday's practice. And 12 other players were listed as limited, including inside linebacker Zach Brown, who now has a sore Achilles tendon.
Williams made it through the Minnesota game, his first since Oct. 2, playing every snap. But the upcoming schedule poses a challenge with a game Sunday at New Orleans, a Thanksgiving Day home game against the New York Giants next Thursday and then another Thursday game on Nov. 30 at Dallas.
"It's going to be a week-to-week thing for Trent, for sure," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "The challenge will be a Sunday, Thursday, Thursday ... Hopefully we'll get him this week, then take it week-by-week."
--Washington signed inside linebacker Zach Vigil on Wednesday. They have two players at that position on injured reserve (Mason Foster, Will Compton). Vigil played in the final two games of the 2016 season for the Redskins and was with the team until the end of training camp this summer before being cut.
NOTES: WR Jamison Crowder missed practice on Wednesday for personal reasons, not injury, and he's expected back on the field Thursday. ... DE Matt Ioannidis (broken hand) was limited a practice on Wednesday, but could play as soon as Sunday's game against New Orleans. ... S DeAngelo Hall (bone bruise, knee) was limited at practice on Wednesday. ... TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. ... TE Niles Paul (concussion) was limited at practice on Wednesday, but could play in Sunday's game against New Orleans. ... WR Brian Quick (concussion) was limited at practice on Wednesday, but could play in Sunday's game against New Orleans. ... WR Ryan Grant (concussion) was limited at practice on Wednesday, but could play in Sunday's game against New Orleans.
Updated November 15, 2017