October 15, 2020 | 7:54pm
On Sunday, La’Mical Perine didn’t receive a single offensive snap. The Jets didn’t want to put “too much on his plate too fast,” Adam Gase said at the time.
Four days later, following the surprise release of Le’Veon Bell, the rookie running back’s plate shouldn’t be nearly as empty.
His opportunity begins Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins. In four days, so much has changed for the fourth-round pick out of Florida.
“I’m excited,” Perine said on Thursday over Zoom following practice. “I’m not going to sit here and lie like I’m not excited.”
With Bell gone and signing with the Chiefs and only 37-year-old Frank Gore ahead on the depth chart, Perine should be getting a significant opportunity the rest of the year, far more of a chance than he received when Bell was on injured reserve for three games. Gase said Perine will have a “bigger role” and getting him involved will be “critical for us” to lighten the workload on Gore.
“I feel like we know how to use him, and [with] his skill set, there’s a lot of things he can do,” Gase said. “There’s an explosiveness there where we’ve seen him take it to the house from 80 yards, and that speed is real.”
The Jets, averaging a league-low 15.0 points per game, could use some of that burst.
“I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity and do my thing. I’m here for a reason — I always tell myself that,” the 22-year-old Perine said. “It’s a challenge. I feel like it’s another opportunity, another challenge to show these folks what I can do on the field.”
Perine, a speedy 5-foot-11, 216-pound back, has yet to really be given much of a chance. He has just 17 touches for 55 yards. Part of the issue was an ankle injury that cost him the tail end of training camp and the season opener against the Bills. Gase has raved about his study habits and everyone — from Gase to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to Gore — sees his promise in practice. They all agreed Perine just needs to play. You only get experience one way.
“He has the talent to play on all three downs,” Loggains said. “He has good hands, good speed, he can help [the] passing and running game. Like all young players, he needs to maximize his opportunity this week.”
Perine raved about playing behind Bell and Gore, getting to learn from both of them. Bell was one of his favorite players growing up, and Gore has taken him under his wing, emphasizing the importance of the opportunity in front of him. Every Wednesday, they go over plays together. Like Perine, Gore wasn’t a high draft pick. He was taken in the third round of the 2005 draft by the 49ers and still remembers all the running backs picked ahead of him, using them for motivation throughout his memorable career.
“I told him how I felt when I got drafted, and I told him that’s how he should look at it,” Gore said. “You [have] got to always compete against the guys who came out in your class. … I always say the guys who went first round, they’re going to get the first opportunity — better opportunity than you — but once you get your opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”
That time has arrived for Perine. Now he has to make the most of it.