- The Washington Times
Friday, November 24, 2017

LANDOVER — At halftime against the New York Giants, Redskins running back Samaje Perine had just three yards on five carries.

By the end of the Redskins’ 20-10 win, Perine finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

What changed? Not much. The solution was simple: the Redskins stuck with running the ball.

It paid off since Perine helped provide consistency to the Redskins offense, in addition to quarterback Kirk Cousins later delivering big throws.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden called Perine “outstanding” amid the changes to the Redskins’ offensive line. Perine’s usual blockers were different. Left tackle Ty Nsekhe, left guard Arie Kouandjio and center Tony Bergstrom started for Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao and Chase Roullier.

“[Perine‘s] vision was really good [Thursday],” Gruden said. “He had some outside zone hits. He stuck his foot in the ground. He was very decisive with his cuts. They’re not all going to be there. Not all pretty. I tell you what, he ran hard [Thursday] and had great vision, exception of a couple loss-of-yardage plays and a holding call. He had a great game. Great game.”

This is now the second game in a row that Perine, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, finished with at least 100 yards.

The 22-year-old took over as the Redskins starter after Rob Kelley suffered a season-ending MCL and ankle injury in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. Last week in New Orleans, running back Chris Thompson also went down with a broken fibula, meaning Perine’s role would expanded further.

Perine had an opportunity earlier in the season to be the starter when Kelley missed Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders with a rib injury. Perine struggled early on, saying he had to learn how to be patient in reading lanes. He was averaging just over 3 yards per carry before the game against the Saints.

Now, Perine is running with a lot more patience. He even played a small factor in the passing game, finishing with three catches for 30 yards.

Perine said he doesn’t allow himself to think about being the lead running back.

“If I think about it like that, I’ll overwhelm myself,” Perine said. “I’ve just got to go in open-minded and just do my thing. It’s an unfortunate situation, but I have to play for those guys and that’s what I did [Thursday.]”

Perine said the Redskins had to stay the course with running the ball, a common remark made throughout Gruden’s tenure as coach.

In the past, the Redskins showed a tendency to abandon the run when it wasn’t working. That’s occurred this season, as well, when they ditched it Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles and rushed just 15 times in Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys.

“We couldn’t throw the ball every down against these guys,” Gruden said about the Giants. “They gave you multiple fronts. They’ve got [Jason] Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon – they’ve got a good pass-rush, a good blitz scheme. We had to get the running game going.”

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