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This season will be critical for Chris Perry

During the Bengals successful 2005 run, one of the biggest contributors to the team's efforts was running back, Chris Perry. Nearly breaking James Brooks' single-season record (55) for more receptions by a running back, Perry gained 607 yards from scrimmage. The more interesting number is of the 112 touches, 31 were converted for first down.

Nonetheless, the number that stands out the most for Perry is 37%. Of the possible 60 games, through four seasons, Perry has played in only 22 of them. In 2004, Perry suffered a sports hernia during a mid-October practice -- he missed the rest of the season. He missed two games in 2005, but started the season on PUP in 2006 rehabbing a knee and ankle. He played six games then was lost for the season after dislocating his ankle against Cleveland in late November. In 2007, Perry never made it on the field starting the season on PUP and then IR once his PUP expired.

This season will be huge for Perry. With Irons out, Kenny Watson figures to be competing with Perry for a majority of the team's snaps behind Rudi Johnson. And Rudi Johnson is definitely on a short-leash to perform (can you say pressure).

Furthermore, Rudi Johnson's cap number in 2008 will be $4.6 million and likely six digits added on to that in 2009. Rudi Johnson is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million over the next two seasons; the cap hit alone makes me think that the Bengals won't bother taking the hit and would be more inclined to negotiate an extension to alleviate the cap number comparable to a reduced role; like what Watson is now.

Perry, on the other hand, accounts for only $1.4 million against the cap in 2008, and, at the most, a quarter million attached to that in 2009. In other words, he's very "cutable" and thus, this season will be critical for Perry to not only perform, but to pray to the football gods that he doesn't suffer freak injuries (ala, Ken Griffey Jr.). Perry is scheduled to make $822,000 in 2008 and $1,008,250 in 2009.