Sunday, April 25, 2004

First pick Perry has all the tools

Skilled, versatile and tough, running back draws comparisons to Bengals rushing great Brooks

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The 154 rushing yards Chris Perry gained for Michigan against Ohio State are still fresh in the minds of Buckeyes fans.

R1: RB Chris Perry
R2: CB Keiwan Ratliff
R2: FS Madieu Williams
R3: LB Caleb Miller
R3: LB Landon Johnson

Perry also rushed for two touchdowns in the game that clinched the Big Ten championship for the Wolverines, and he gained another 55 yards on five receptions.

"I think it really showcased (my) ability," Perry said of that performance. "That game was a big stage."

The Bengals were impressed.

Perry, the Bengals' first-round pick Saturday in the NFL draft, brings a combination of skills that reminds 20-year Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson of former Bengals back James Brooks.

"His overall fundamentals and execution of (his) game are exciting," Anderson said of Perry. "This guy is as close to James that we have had here in a long time. ... He has the ability to make defenders miss."

Perry was a two-year starter at Michigan and had 3,696 rushing yards, 572 receiving yards and 41 total touchdowns in four seasons. Perry rushed for 1,682 yards and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground as a senior.

"I hope I can add a guy who wants to come in, win, and compete every day," Perry said shortly after being chosen. "I hope I can find my niche and help the team as much as possible."

Perry's niche is likely to be as the team's second tailback behind starter Rudi Johnson, especially as a third-down pass receiver. Johnson inherited the job from Corey Dillon, traded Monday to New England for the 56th overall pick in the second round.

"I don't know much about James (Brooks)," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, "but Chris Perry can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he blocks and does a tremendous job being a complete running back. This is a guy we felt good about."

The Bengals passed on Oregon State's Steven Jackson at No. 26.

Most draft experts ranked Jackson ahead of both Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones and Perry. The Bengals had Perry ranked first on their draft board.

"It's like ice cream - everyone likes a different flavor," Anderson said. "Chris Perry is our flavor. He is a guy we feel can make things happen. He fits what we are trying to do offensively, and that's important."

Like Johnson, Perry is durable. He rushed 51 times against Michigan State and 31 times against Ohio State.

"I can run well both inside and out," Perry said. "I think I'm versatile. I play hard. That's what I do."

Perry and Johnson will form a battering ram-type combination that could help take some pressure off first-year starting quarterback Carson Palmer.

"We felt like we wanted to have two running backs," Lewis said.

Johnson remains unsigned as a restricted free agent. He has been offered a $1.824 million one-year tender that he is expected to sign.

Asked if Johnson is still a priority, Lewis said, "We put the priority tag on him (in free agency). It still remains to be seen that we were unable to get in the right position with Rudi and his (agent). Rudi is excited about being a Bengal, and that's all we can do."

Chris Perry, RB, Michigan

Height, weight: 6-0, 224

DOB: 12/27/81

2003 stats: 338 carries, 1,674 yards, 18 rushing touchdowns; 44 receptions, 367 yards, two touchdowns.

2004 projection: Will share time in backfield with starter Rudi Johnson.

Personal: Native of Advance, N.C.; Enrolled in College of Literature, Science and the Arts at Michigan; attended Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in 1999 to improve academic standing

Perry's rushing stats at Michigan

YearG GS Att.Yds.Avg. TD
2000 10 00 77 417 5.4 5
2001 11 04 129 495 3.8 2
2002 13 11 267 1,110 4.2 14
2003 13 13 338 1,674 5.0 18
Totals47 28 811 3,696 4.6 39

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