The Jets' second-year running back La'Mical Perine on Wednesday wasn't merely paying lip service when he spoke about the team's defensive captain C.J. Mosley.
"A lot of people don't know this, but we went to the same high school [Theodore], we're both from Mobile, Alabama," Perine said. "He's everything you see day to day. I grew up with this dude, his brother was my high school quarterback. When C.J. comes home he's a hero, I'm not kidding. The guy's a hero. What you see out there is not fake. He works hard trying to build a winner here. He's not fake, he's a good dude. I used to go to Alabama just to be around the guy, get his energy. He's doing everything right.
"He takes it very seriously and brings it every single play. I used to sit back and watch it, now I'm seeing it every day. I'm seeing how he goes about his business. I respect him. All hats off to C.J. Mosley."
For his part, Perine. drafted in the fourth round out of Florida in 2020, has been on the active roster for four games so far this season, also getting time on special teams (20 snaps in all), after seeing the field for 10 games in 2020.
"I'm a running back, I can do anything," he said. "I'm balanced. I can catch, I can run, I'm a three-down back. Whenever they call my number I have to be prepared for it."
Last week against the Saints, Perine's number was called with rookie RB Michael Carter (ankle), veteran Tevin Coleman (concussion) and Austin Walter (illness) not available. Perine carried the ball 7 times for 28 yards (with a long run of 14 yards), taking 17 snaps (26%) on offense, teamed with Ty Johnson in Zach Wilson's backfield.
"He did a nice job," HC Robert Saleh said on Wednesday. "He was obviously engaged and all that. He ran well. It's like I've said up here before, I always challenge backs: If the offensive line blocks it for 5 [yards], can you find 8, can you find 9, can you find an explosive? If they block it for negative-2, can you get back to the line of scrimmage? Can you get more for what it's blocked for? That's the job. That's the definition to me of a good back and so La'Mical ran hard, he did some good things and it's obviously a good week to build off of."
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With Carter and Coleman expected back to face the Dolphins in Miami, and Ty Johnson and Walter each in the mix, Perine could again find himself in reserve.
"It's a process and throughout this whole thing I've stayed level headed," he said. "It's like last week, you never know when you'll get a chance. I've always been a guy who works his tail off. Whatever comes, I'm ready and prepared."
The Jets saw something in Perine, 23, in his senior season for the Gators when he ran for 677 yards and 6 TDs while catching 40 passes for 262 yards and 5 TDs. He was named the MVP of the 2019 Orange Bowl when he rushed for a career-high 138 yards and 2 TDs on 13 carries and caught 5 passes for 43 yards and a TD in the Gators' 36–28 victory over Virginia (and current teammate CB Bryce Hall).
"My first year I was still getting adjusted, learning from Frank Gore what it means to be a pro," he said. "This year with a new staff I'm just trying to keep a clean face, show I'm a hard-working person, a good dude for this team. If you're not determined to work every day, you shouldn't step into the building. I feel like at this point in my journey I have to take what it is and be ready when my number is called."
With depth at running back, Perine had to step aside when Walter, who was with Saleh in San Francisco last season, was elevated from the practice squad and played well at Houston. Perine did not dress for the Texans game.
"Until I get my opportunity I'm going about my business, taking one day at a time," he said. "We have a lot of talented running backs and I can't beat up on myself."
He added: "I got drafted for a reason. I'm a talented guy. I know what I bring to the table each day I step on that field. I'm a dog."