The other rookie running back out of Oklahoma is ready to run through NFL defenders.
Samaje Perine didn’t get nearly the attention before the draft as Joe Mixon. But the fourth-round pick of the Washington Redskins has the capability of starting as a rookie or at least sharing the load with undrafted second-year running back Robert Kelley.
“He’s a physical runner, without a doubt,” coach Jay Gruden said. “When it comes down to it, he can get from here to there physically. He’s a physical runner and had a lot of production and a lot of yards.”
Sharing the backfield with Mixon last season, Perine rushed for 1,079 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards a carry. He doesn’t have Mixon’s speed, or his history — Mixon was suspended for his freshman season for punching a woman and breaking bones in her face.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Mixon in the second round, 48th overall; the Redskins took Perine in the fourth round, 114th. Perine does not see himself in competition with Mixon.
“Outshine him for what? If we’re winning, then that’s my goal,” Perine said Saturday at rookie minicamp. “I don’t care what anyone says or compares me to anyone, that doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day as long as I do my job and help the team win, I’m good.”
Perine called competing for a top job with Kelley at training camp a “great opportunity.” Kelley came out of nowhere last year to eventually earn the No. 1 job, and the addition of Perine could lead Washington to cut 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones before Week 1.
Gruden and Redskins scouts saw a lot to like in Perine’s game at Oklahoma. Minicamp is just a glimpse for the coaching staff, but Gruden is impressed with his first up-close look.
“I like guys that come in here and love football and he does, and he’s a very smart guy,” Gruden said. “You can tell that he’s going to be a very hard worker. And of course he runs hard. … He’s got good vision, he’s got good feet in the hole and he caught the ball well.”
Perine wasn’t used out of the backfield in catching situations much at Oklahoma, so he acknowledges that part of his game is rusty. He says he made huge strides from the first day of rookie minicamp to the second in route-running. He believes he can easily get back to being a receiving threat.
He also wants to make sure he uses his strength in pass protection.
“College you could run up to the other guy and the play’s off, but here plays can take a lot longer to develop so you have to stay on that guy longer,” Perine said. “Getting a wide base, learning where to put my hands and all that stuff is going to help out in the long run. Other than that, I really don’t see anything else that I have to do different.”