Runnning back Paul Perkins has a second chance to make a first impression with the New York Giants. Can the running back capitalize on that and earn a roster spot as a backup for Saquon Barkley?
Let’s talk about Perkins as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Position: Running back
How he got here
The Giants selected Perkins in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He gained 456 rushing yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry as a rookie, taking more and more carries away from Rashad Jennings as the season wore on. Handed the starting job in 2017, Perkins flopped. He ended up rushing just 41 times for 90 yards, 2.2 yards per carry.
He suffered an offseason pectoral injury and spent the 2018 season on injured reserve.
Sometimes it helps to have an advocate on the coaching staff. Perkins apparently has one in running backs coach Craig Johnson, who has been coaching Giants’ running backs since 2014 and is now working for his third Giant head coach.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula admitted recently that he and head coach Pat Shurmur, who just came to the Giants in 2018, didn’t know Perkins well and that Johnson had pushed to give him a chance.
“Coach Johnson had a lot of good things to say about him. Said he was versatile, could play as a third-down back,” Shula said during mandatory mini-camp. “We’re just kinda trying to find out what he’s about.”
The Giants will, obviously, rely heavily on Barkley in 2019. They do, however, need a couple of capable backups. Wayne Gallman was the primary caddy for Barkley a year ago, but they are looking for alternatives. Perkins and free agent acquisition Rod Smith are in competition with Gallman.
“We’ve got an opportunity there,” Shula said. “We don’t have a whole lot of backs.”
That opportunity is all Perkins could have asked for.
“Every opportunity that you get you have to attack and throw all your effort into it,” Perkins said. “You never know when you’re going to get a second chance or if you’re going to get a second chance. That’s my primary focus right now. Every time I step out here give maximum effort.”
Perkins had a pretty good spring, showcasing the ability to catch the ball and looking pretty spry running around during OTAs and mini-camp.
“He’s a guy that can do a lot of things. He can pass protect, he can run the football, obviously, he’s pretty good out of the backfield. We want to continue having him get better in all those things,” Shula said. “We don’t dress a lot of backs [for games], so the guys that are dressing have to be able to do all those things.”
Though he was on IR, Perkins spent as much time as possible around the team and in the Giants’ locker room a year ago.
“I think just showing face, just being around helped me with a rapport with the coaches and some of the players,” he said. “Hopefully it helped me being around the playbook and knowing the terminology that’s being said on the field even though I’m not out there.”
Perkins is now out there on the field once again. Can he show the Giants enough during training camp and the preseason to make them believe he should stay on the roster? There is a chance he just might.