Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine did not get off to a very good start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Perine, who got the start because of an ankle injury suffered by Joe Mixon in the Week 4 win over Jacksonville, had just two jobs: Run the ball, and protect quarterback Joe Burrow.
Cincinnati cornerback Chidobe Awuzie had just intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass and set the Bengals up in great field position at the Packers’ 42-yard-line. Facing a 2nd-and-10, Perine whiffed on a block against blitzing linebacker Krys Barnes and surrendered an 8-yard sack that effectively wasted a golden opportunity.
No one knows better than Perine the importance of protecting his quarterback.
“It really doesn’t have to be said,” Perine said all the way back in training camp. “We all know. We’re all professional athletes, and running the ball is our job, that’s what we get paid to do. But your ability to block is a part of that as well.”
Fortunately for Perine, the fifth-year back, who the Bengals picked up off waivers, first from Washington in 2019, then from Miami in 2020, would get a chance at redemption.
Perine got the call on the first play of the next drive, and responded with a 7-yard run. Nine plays later, he hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to give Cincinnati a 7-0 lead.
Perine finished the day as the Bengals’ leading rusher with 59 yards rushing on 11 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He added four receptions for 24 yards, including his first score of the season.
Prior to Sunday, Perine had appeared in all four games for the Bengals, and was the only running back besides Mixon to have a carry. Coming in to the Packer game, he had recorded just nine carries for 28 yards on the season, along with four receptions for 30 yards. The bulk of his carries came last week after Mixon’s injury.
Last year, Perine played in all 16 games for Cincinnati, including one start, and picked up 301 yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries (an average of 4.8 yards per carry). He also caught 16 passes for 66 yards.
While the game ended in a loss, it’s good to know Perine can make this kind of impact and help offset Mixon being limited or out altogether.