You just gotta love the story of Bruce Perry. He grew up in Philadelphia. His Mom is a detective in the Philadelphia DA's office and his Dad is a Philadelphia fireman. He graduated from George Washington High School, but spent some time at both Father Daugherty and West Catholic High Schools in the city. He went away - although not too far away - to college at the University of Maryland, only to be brought back home by the Eagles. Now, he lives in South Jersey and has finally had the chance to make his NFL debut wearing an Eagles jersey. It doesn't get any better than that.
As a high school player, Perry attracted attention and was named The Offensive Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer and was on the All-Metro First Team as chosen by the Daily News. In addition, Perry garnered First Team All-State and First Team All-Area awards and finished his high school career as a finalist for the state Player of the Year honors. In his senior season, Perry rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. At Maryland, the success continued as he finished his college career as Maryland's fourth leading rusher of all-time with over 2,400 yards and would have put himself higher on the list if not for injuries that slowed him in each of his last two seasons.
Injuries. That's been a word that's haunted Perry. In his first pre-season game with the Eagles after being drafted in 2004, Perry suffered a shoulder injury and spent the entire season on injured reserve. He came back in 2005 and worked his way onto the practice squad and finally onto the Eagles roster for their game in Arizona. It was thought that Perry might get some playing time in the backfield, but instead, he was on special teams returning kickoffs and Andy Reid took notice. "He did some good things out there," Reid said. "He was very decisive. He read the blocking, then took it right in there."
In the Eagles' first 14 games, they managed just four kickoff returns of 30 or more yards. On Saturday, Perry, playing in place of Rod Hood, averaged 31.7 yards per return on six kicks, including a game opening 49 yard return. His performance has guaranteed that Perry will again be on kick return duties against Washington and again, the rumor that he will get some carries out of the backfield is circulating, although Reid hasn't given a definite thumbs up on that plan.
There's not much that Reid, Perry or anybody can do about the 2005 season. It ends Sunday and all the Eagles can hope for is having the distinction of beating the Redskins and possibly keeping them out of the playoffs. For Perry though, there may be a lot on the line as he looks to leave a good memory of himself for Reid and his staff to consider during the off-season. Reid is one who will be watching. "With young players, you are going to have your eye on them, watching them to see how they do and whether they are improving," explained Reid. "It's probably not what they are going to be in a year or two, but you can see if they are willing to battle and work through some of the coaching points that are given to them. Are they improving each week? Are they making the same mistakes over and over? Those types of things."
When you combine Reid's thoughts on evaluating young players with his comments on Perry, you have to figure that Perry helped himself last week and could do even more for himself this week if he's given the chance to carry the ball. After all, Perry could be in a good spot coming into camp next summer since there is uncertainty in the backfield, especially with Correll Buckhalter having found himself on the list of the injured again in 2005. Perry could easily find his way into a much more active role if he himself can stay healthy for next season.