Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins came a long way to get his chance in preseason opener
During training camp, as they’ve stood on the sidelines watching Matthew Stafford and John Wolford take reps at quarterback, Devlin Hodges and Bryce Perkins have turned to each other and talked of Aug. 14 — the date of the Rams’ first preseason game.
That, they both knew, would be their time in the spotlight. With Stafford and Wolford both sitting out Saturday’s game against the Chargers, the third and fourth men on the depth chart will get a chance to make their case for a roster spot.
For Perkins, it will be his first chance to take the field in an NFL uniform. The journey to this point has been arduous.
Originally enrolling at Arizona State in 2015 and redshirting, Perkins broke two vertebra in his neck, then missed the entire 2016 season. That led him to Arizona Western College, where he played for a year prior to transferring to Virginia. In two years with the Cavaliers, Perkins led them to eight and nine wins, their first postseason win since 2005, the 2019 ACC championship game, then an Orange Bowl loss.
“You talk about really raising the level of play of everybody around you, being able to lead those guys to a conference championship game, I remember watching that opening drive as he takes them right down the field,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Friday. “Clemson is a pretty impressive team.”
‘I’ve never been fired in my life’: Jared Goff and Anthony Lynn experienced simultaneous failure in L.A. They’re looking for a reboot with the Lions.
This was in response to a question about why Perkins went undrafted — the next malady to afflict his career. Still, he did enough in Charlottesville to catch the eye of Les Snead and McVay, eventually signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent. With the lack of preseason games in 2020, though, he never had a chance to see game action.
“Going out there and performing all the things that we practiced over the last year — for me, for the last two years, this year and last year — it’s gonna be exciting,” Perkins said. “I know energy’s gonna be up.”
Given that the latest stats from Perkins are from the 2019 ACC season, they should be taken with a grain of salt. But we do know he’s capable of using his legs, having rushed for a combined 1,692 yards over two seasons with the Cavaliers.
“It just keeps defenses honest,” McVay said. “So much of what you see is predicated on defenses usually playing 11 on 10 where they’re not necessarily having to account for the quarterback as a runner. You can certainly do those things with him and then when things break down off schedule — if somebody gets beat — that athleticism, he can kind of find a way of, when it’s wrong, making it right.”
The absence of backup quarterback John Wolford at Rams training camp has given Devlin Hodges a chance to show off his skills.
Asked about nerves, Perkins said he wasn’t feeling any. The biggest thing for him is making sure everything goes smoothly before the play — in particular getting the right play call in. Last year, with no preseason, he felt a lack of comfort with the Rams’ playbook. That has since evaporated.
“I remember hearing some of the play calls, I’m like, ‘There’s no way that I would ever be able to get these play calls down,’ ” Perkins said. “But now, feeling really comfortable about hearing the play call, getting them out and then going up there and executing. That alone just allows you to play faster and as we know, when you’re allowed to take some of the stress off, thinking a lot at quarterback, you perform better.”
The stakes here are no small deal for someone in Perkins’ position. Even if he doesn’t make the Rams’ roster, it’s a chance to put something good on tape for the first time in two years. With a brother, former UCLA running back Paul Perkins, who used to play in the league, Bryce knows how quickly chances can evaporate.
“I’d rather go out there when I felt ready mentally than going out there, rushing out there just because I want to be out there,” Perkins said. “So I love coming out here, going and watching the guys and taking different stuff from different guys and learning how to be a pro’s pro.”
It was a light day of work on Friday, with things wrapping up about an hour early ahead of Saturday’s game. ... Cornerback Robert Rochell participated but wore a club and a non-contact jersey. ... Linebacker Terrell Lewis and corner Darious Williams both missed practice with knee and ankle injuries, respectively.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.