Bengals' Perry looks promising
Fifth-year tailback says he's more humble and more determined after his recovery.
By Chick Ludwig
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
CINCINNATI — Chris Perry's first practice in 18 months drew rave reviews at Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesday, May 13.
The 6-foot, 224-pounder ran hard, cut sharply and showed good burst and acceleration. That was the entree. Then he tossed in a pair of one-handed catches for dessert.
Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals' fifth-year tailback is fully recovered from the devastating injury suffered at Cleveland on Nov. 26, 2006, when he fractured and dislocated his right ankle.
He's hoping the first of 14 organized team activities — OTAs, a fancy term for on-field coaching sessions — is a sign of a fabulously fruitful fall.
"Any time you've missed as much time as I have, you always look forward to getting back out there and showing what you've got," Perry said. "Hopefully, this will be a stepping stone to getting a lot better.
"I feel good. I'm not going to put a percentage on it because you can always get better."
Head coach Marvin Lewis said Perry "did what we expected."
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski was impressed.
"I went over at one point and told him, 'It's really good to see you out here,' " Bratkowski said. "It's going to tell, over time, how he handles the wear and tear of going every day. But he got off to a real good start."
Perry was expected to be an explosive complement to bulldozer Rudi Johnson when the Bengals drafted him in the first round (No. 26 overall) in 2004. But injuries have limited Perry to just 22 games with three starts.
"It's just exciting to have another target, a new dimension to the offense," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He's such a threat out of the backfield. We just don't know how good he can really be because he hasn't put together an entire year and stayed healthy."
Perry's goal is twofold: Closing the book on his injury history and staying healthy so he can exploit his amazing grace.
"It's made me more appreciative of the things I have, being able to play this sport," he said. "It's made me more humble. I'm just trying to push myself as much as possible every day.
"Everything happens for a reason. God doesn't put you through anything that you can't make it through. So I'm making it through."
The Bengals ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing (97.3 yards a game) in 2007. No team ranked worse than 21st made the playoffs.
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski sees better days ahead in 2008. Players are getting healthy and the competitive juices are flowing.
"It's kind of like a survivor course," he said. "You get to see who's going to make it through the battles. It's going to be very competitive."
Rudi Johnson: Limited to nine starts and 497 yards because of a pulled hamstring, he vows to bounce back as a 225-pound wrecking ball.
Kenny Watson: Mr. Consistency, he led the team with 763 rushing yards on 178 carries (4.3). He's a durable, reliable runner and receiver.
Chris Perry: Finally healthy after suffering a fractured right ankle at Cleveland on Nov. 26, 2006, Perry must prove he can stay healthy.
DeDe Dorsey: Showed flashes of brilliance in limited action. He's blessed with speed and quickness, but must improve his ball security.
Kenny Irons: Likely to open season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He's still rehabbing torn left anterior cruciate ligament at Detroit (Aug. 9, 2007).