Instead, Perry was forced to work his way onto the Chicago Bears roster as a tryout player in rookie minicamp. It was there he caught the attention of Chicago’s coaching staff and earned an invite to training camp.
Perry has showed good fluidity and decent hands out of the backfield. His one-cut running style translates well to Chicago’s zone-blocking run system, something he showcased during the second preseason contest.
During the final two drives against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Perry caught two passes for 30 yards and carried the ball four times for 13 yards, which included a five-yard touchdown plunge that put the Bears up for good.
We caught up with this Perry this week to discuss training camp, the preseason and what lies ahead.
“It was so exciting to score that first NFL touchdown last week. Just the experience of being out there with my teammates and being able to do something positive for the guys was incredibly satisfying. It’s the kind of situation you dream of as a young football player, so when it happens for real, it’s special.
“I know that was just a preseason game but for a rookie a touchdown at this level is very meaningful. It was great feeling the urgency as we went down the field. I was going to try to do my best to get that score. Then there it was. What a night.
“One question the guys asked me the next day was what was I going to do with the ball I scored with. ‘Oh no’, I thought to myself. I realized then that I had absolutely no idea where the ball had gone.
“Somebody picked it up off the field and handed it to the equipment guys. Hopefully one of these days I’ll find it right in my locker. I was too distracted at the time to keep an eye on it. I’ll be sure that next time I score I’ll hold on to that ball so I definitely end up with it.
“One question I got a lot from friends and family afterwards was what the feeling was like when I was going into the end zone. Its funny but for me, it felt like everything speed up a lot. It was like the hurry up offense in college. I’ve heard some guys say that when they are about to cross the goal line, everything slows down. That definitely wasn’t the case for me. It was like the play was going in warp speed.
“Actually that’s what the offensive players and coaches have been working with me on. They keep telling me to slow down, to be a little more deliberate about things. I know that’s the best approach but my whole football life, I’ve been moving fast. It’s second nature. The problem, they say, is if you are moving too fast as a rookie, you’re going to make a mistake. Better to take a little more time and do things right.
“If you looked today, you would have seen me after practice working with Matt Slauson. Ka’Deem Cary was out there with me as well. Matt was telling us to watch his feet and nothing else as the ball is snapped. He wants us to move at his pace so we are at the same tempo as the rest of the offensive players. It’s a matter of observation and repetition. Do exactly what the vets do and you should be OK, or that is what they tell us.
“Matt tells the rookies what it’s like to play at this level. He definitely knows from experience what he’s talking about. He tells us that it’s all about footwork. Master that and you should be good. He tells us as long as we go out there every day and hustle and progress, we should be just fine.
“The second home game for me was pretty much the same as the first game in terms of getting acclimated to playing at this level. It was exciting and I was nervous but once I got on the field I felt at home. That’s the point of the preseason, to get the rookies so they feel comfortable out there.
“I loved the energy of the fans. It’s amazing how much that means to the players to know your hometown crowd is behind you. I came from a somewhat small school so the big crowds are new to me. It’s good to be out there getting used to the noise.
“Now I need to learn to read the plays better, be able to catch different passes. It’s all part of the development process. Matt Forte, Michael Ford, Shaun Draughn are working us pretty hard so we can absorb those things. You have to be very patient in the NFL evidently, waiting for the holes to open up.
“I loved facing new guys across the line. You can hit those guys where you can’t really hit your teammates. I wasn’t intimidated at all but I was enjoying the experience. If you are prepared, if you love the game, the experience of being out there should be enjoyable.
“Road trip coming up. How cool is that? My first NFL road trip. I’m ready to go out to the west coast and play some football. They’re the Super Bowl champions. I can’t wait to go against those guys.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 14 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.