With the midweek release of running back Le’Veon Bell by the New York Jets, there is an opportunity for rookie Le’Mical Perine in the coming weeks. Expectations for the 22-year-old haven’t changed, the spotlight is certainly on him.
Perine was a fourth round pick of the Jets coming off a solid career at Florida.
“I’m excited,” Perine said at a virtual press conference Thursday after practice. “I’m not going to sit here and lie like I’m not excited.”
Perine didn’t touch the ball on offense in Sunday’s 30-10 loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals. The week prior against Denver, he had just five carries for 15 yards.
Overall on the season, he has 17 carries for 55 yards.
“I feel like we know how to use him, and [with] his skill set, there’s a lot of things he can do,” Jets head coach Adam Gase said Thursday. “There’s an explosiveness there where we’ve seen him take it to the house from 80 yards, and that speed is real.”
The release of Bell cam after a contentious few days where the All-Pro running back made it clear that he wanted out from New York. Now with Bell’s release, there are more carries to go around for the rookie.
“I know it’s a business and stuff like that,” Perine said of the team’s decision to release Bell. “I didn’t really know how to react to it. He was one of my favorite running backs growing up. I watched everything he did step by step. I’m sure whoever gets him is going to get a great player.”
Bell agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, just 48 hours after his release by the Jets.
The rookie running back impressed the Jets in training camp before suffering an injury that kept him out at the start of the season. He is a power back at 5-foot-11, 216 pounds. He finished his career with 2,485 yards, eighth-most in Gators history.
When he was drafted, the thought process was that Perine could be a third-down specialist in his rookie season. Bell’s injury in the opening game has forced the Jets to rethink their running attack.
“He doesn’t say a whole bunch,” Gase said. “He’s fairly quiet. He’s in Frank (Gore’s) hip pocket all the time, has been really since the beginning. I think he’s just he’s looking at it as he loves the opportunity, wants to be involved in the game, which I’m pretty sure everybody wants to see that because we did see a lot of good stuff before he got injured in training camp – plenty of opportunity.”