While Chris Perry was impressing the hell out of us Monday Night, it became a realization that this season will be the biggest in Perry's career. First off, Kenny Irons is gone, lost to a nasty -- and perhaps unrecoverable -- knee injury. Therefore, the Bengals lost any chance of having a future feature back, an apprentice, so to speak. Rudi Johnson's career is on the down slope -- though he might have a great rebound year (yet to be seen) -- he clearly has less years ahead of him than behind him. Kenny Watson is a fine back, but he's yet to play the role of feature back on a full roster of running backs -- he claimed the role after Rudi Johnson, Chris Perry and Kenny Irons were down, at some point, to injury (Perry and Irons, the entire season).
With all that added together, Perry has an opportunity to win himself the job as the Bengals feature back for several years after this one -- perhaps earning him his big-pay contract which usually comes after finishing rookie contracts. Perry's last contract season is 2009 where he's due to make a base of $1,008,250. Justifiably so, knowing the history of Perry, the short-span that a running back has in a typical career, the Bengals may also think of rebuilding the running back in the next two NFL drafts, letting Perry go after 2009. Who knows?
But this year is Perry's biggest, proving that he can stay healthy and take the pounding as an NFL team's feature back. On the other hand, Perry could get hurt again, find himself without a long-term deal and turning into a life-time backup running back that many teams may not take a flyer because of a lack of durability.