Game Evaluation: Chargers RB Ray Perkins

In the final game of the NFL preseason, Ray Perkins made one final push for a spot on the active roster. He started the game and contributed 16 yards on five carries. He also assumed the team's kickoff return chores, returning three for 70 yards.

On offense, Perkins proved to be tougher than a 5-foot-10, 205 lb. back should be. He routinely cut his runs up towards the middle of the field as opposed to trying to scamper towards the sideline. His fearlessness is not limited to carrying the ball, as he is physical and technically sound in pass defense as well. He proved capable of blocking linebackers in isolation, a vital ability given the team's instability on the offensive line.

Perkins is comparable to former Chargers third-down back Terrell Fletcher, who last played for the team in 2002. Both are utility types who can run, catch and contribute on special teams. Although Fletcher was never an elite player, he earned eight years worth of paychecks as a pro, and Perkins could have a similar career if given the opportunity.

"I think that helps me because I can catch and I can also run, and return," Perkins said. "LaDainian has a lot of catches and he can also run. I think that probably helps me out a little bit more, being that I can catch."

With the Chargers top two running back slots all sewed up, Perkins will have to make an impact on special teams if he hopes to stick around. Returning kickoffs in San Francisco was a start, but Perkins will have to be more decisive if he hopes to keep that gig. Part of his hesitance, however, may have been a result of him trying to do too much in order to show the coaches something that would prompt them to keep him around.

That same issue seemed to plague him a bit on offense, as he got happy feet whenever the defense penetrated. He would be well served to watch the game tape and review not only his performance, but that of 49ers rookie Michael Robinson, who on that night was the personification of decisiveness and aggressive running.

Perkins has the mentality of a football player. He displays toughness of both body and mind and is willing to do whatever for the betterment of the team. During one play against San Francisco he lowered his head into a defender, lost his helmet, then continued to plow forward for another couple yards. Plays like that make him a hard player to cut.

Perkins is a classic overachiever who would have never been considered for a roster spot had Darren Sproles not gone down with an injury. But Perkins has seized this opportunity and done all he can with it.

As for cut day, Perkins isn't worried about it - at least outwardly.

"I've been competitive all my life so that's nothing I'm worried about," said Perkins.

Next week, when the Chargers kickoff the regular season with a Monday night game in Oakland, we will analyze the performance of wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

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