Louisville fans have spent the latter part of the summer following the first professional performances of guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Calvin Pryor and Marcus Smith closely. On Thursday, however, it'll be an undrafted member of the 2013 Cardinal squad who will need the majority of his former fan base's support and well-wishes.
Senorise Perry was supposed to a standard camp invitee for the Chicago Bears, a guy who, if he turned enough heads during the preseason might be able to warrant a spot in the practice squad. Instead, Perry has performed so admirably that he has the Bears staff debating keeping four running backs on their regular season roster.
And undrafted rookie running back Senorise Perry returned kickoffs 27 and 24 yards, the former representing the longest return by a Bear still on the 2014 roster. Perry also quietly rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries (4.1 avg.), one for a touchdown.
"Quietly," because while attention was focused on whether Ka'Deem Carey or Shaun Draughn would emerge as the No. 2 running back to Matt Forte, Perry has played his way into the discussion of who the Bears' kickoff returner will be. He also has created the extremely unusual (and unlikely, given needs for depth elsewhere) scenario whereby the Bears could keep four running backs.
For that to happen, it looks as though Perry is going to have to give another shining performance when the Bears close out the preseason against Cleveland Thursday night.
"I take a lot of pride in special teams, not just returns," Perry said on Tuesday. "Once I got a chance to go out and return the ball, it was just a great opportunity."
He will get that opportunity on Thursday in Cleveland, even with Michael Spurlock and Chris Williams slated to get looks returning kicks.
"I hate to say how big, but it's certainly going to be an opportunity for him," said coach Marc Trestman. "He's flashed for us. He's had a couple of good games in the reps that he's had, both in the kicking game and running the football. He's going to get that chance again, to run the football on Thursday night, as we see it right now."
Best of luck to Senorise tonight and over the coming weeks.