Le'Veon Bell went from the cellar to the penthouse with his move from the New York Jets to the Kansas City Chiefs this week, but his departure leaves opportunity in the Gang Green backfield.
“The group of guys able to play in this game is a good mix of veterans and young players,” coach Adam Gase said Thursday of his backfield, via the team’s official website. “We want these young guys playing … the more experience they get the better.”
The Jets currently have three running backs on their roster, Frank Gore, rookie La'Mical Perine and Ty Johnson. Josh Adams is also on the practice squad.
While Gore has taken the lead-back role in games that Bell missed this season, Gase’s plan to play young players portends a bigger role for Perine.
The fourth-round pick has just 15 carries for 56 yards in four games and two catches for -1 yards. In the two games Bell played with the Jets this year, Perine did not take an offensive snap. He missed Week 1 due to an ankle injury and saw just two special teams reps in last week’s loss to Arizona.
“He doesn’t say a whole bunch,” Gase said of Perine. “He’s quiet. He’s in Frank’s hip pocket all the time. He loves the opportunity and wants to be involved in the game. Everyone wants to see it, we saw a lot of good stuff in camp before he got injured.
“Perine’s definitely going to get a bigger role. Frank, you’re not going to lean on him as heavy a load. Getting Perine really involved is going to be critical for us.”
At 37 years old Gore is who he is. He’ll burrow for positive yards but isn’t going to break long dashes. In 64 carries this season, his longest run went for 13 yards. Gore averaged 3.2 yards per carry with no TDs through the first five games.
Now the Jets need to find out what they have in the rookie.
“We don’t want to put too much on this kid, we need to figure out what he is,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He needs to go out and play. He has the talent to play on all three downs. He has good hands, good speed, he can help passing and running game. Like all young players, he needs to maximize his opportunity this week.”
Gore is the trusty vet who won’t make mistakes but giving Perine a shot makes sense for an 0-5 Jets squad staring at the top pick in the draft. At worst, the offense can’t be less effective with the fourth-rounder in the backfield. At best, the Florida product proves he can shoulder the load before next year’s latest reboot.
“It’s a challenge,” Perine said. “I feel like it’s another opportunity, another challenge to show these folks what I can do on the field. I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity and do my thing. I’m here for a reason.”
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