The odds are stacked against Paul Perkins. He knows it, and rather than run from it, he’d rather run with it and relish the challenge along the way.
Thursday night’s Giants preseason finale against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., might very well represent Perkins’ last stand with the team that drafted him in 2016.
Or it might not.
Whatever the outcome, the Giants’ fourth-year running back, who was supposed to be their feature back as he rushed for 456 yards and a 4.1-yard average in his rookie season, is preparing for the end result with a smile on his face.
Perkins, who’s only 24 years old and is coming off missing the entire 2018 season with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered while lifting weights on his own, is jumping out of his skin in anticipation of Thursday’s game.
Perkins doesn’t know how many carries he’ll get, but he welcomes as many as the coaches will give him.
“I can’t go in there with the mindset of playing X amount of plays, because I’ll psyche myself out,’’ Perkins said Tuesday after the Giants’ final training camp practice of the summer. “The more playing time, the more opportunities I can get to show what I can do, after missing the last year of football, you kind of cherish the extra plays and extra reps.’’
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Perkins is in a roster spot battle for the No. 3 running back behind starter Saquon Barkley and backup Wayne Gallman. Rod Smith, the former Cowboys backup to Ezekiel Elliott, has been his primary competition, and Smith suffered a groin/adductor injury in the Giants preseason game against Thursday night in Cincinnati and hasn’t practiced since. So he won’t play against the Patriots.
This serves as a good break for Perkins — provided he performs well.
If you believe in such things, Perkins deserves a good break, because he got a bad one when he tore the pectoral muscle while lifting in February 2018, sending his NFL career into a state of uncertainty and now having to prove himself to a new coaching staff.
Neither head coach Pat Shurmur nor GM Dave Gettleman has much familiarity with what Perkins can do.
Shurmur, though, said Tuesday that he’s seen “a lot of good’’ from Perkins this summer.
“I don’t know him as well as some,’’ Shurmur said. “I think it’s fair to say that he was a little rusty when he first got back at it, but he’s made steady improvement throughout [camp].’’
Perkins has rushed for 46 yards on 13 carries for a 3.5-yard average in the preseason and he’s second on the team with seven receptions for 65 yards.
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“It was kind of nerve-wracking going out there after missing a whole year and not knowing what to expect, because it’s been so long and everything kind of changed,’’ Perkins said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just football and I’ve been playing football for X amount of years.’’
It’s pretty clear that Perkins needs a strong performance to cement a spot on the roster.
With that kind of pressure on him, he must avoid falling into the trap of pressing to do something extraordinary to impress the coaches.
“I’m just going to go out there and play how I play,’’ Perkins said. “I don’t want to press, because that’s going to make me step out of who I am and my personality on field. I just want to go out there and play better in all aspects of the game — running, catching and blocking — and just solidify the things I’ve done over the past couple of games.
“I’ve just got to go out there and let the plays and the game come to me, just go out there and have fun. Because at the end of the day, whether it is my last time playing for the Giants or I get kept, this is going to be the last time I play with a lot of these guys.’’
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