METAIRIE – Samaje Perine.
He’s a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Two years ago he was a rookie with the Washington Redskins. On Nov. 19, 2017 he rushed for 117 yards against the New Orleans Saints.
That’s the last time an opponent’s running back has reached that plateau against New Orleans.
That’s 31 consecutive games without any individual rushing for 100 yards against the Saints.
“That’s very impressive,” Saints linebacker Demario Davis said Wednesday when informed of the streak.
Here comes one of the biggest threats to the streak as New Orleans prepares to visit Jacksonville and face former LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Two weeks ago, Fournette had a career-high 225 yards in a win at Denver and last week he had 108 in a loss at Carolina.
“He’s a big guy, but he’s explosive,” Davis said.
“He has really good acceleration, he’s really good in open space, good vision, can run routes out of the backfield.
“He’s a very sound pass blocker. He’s an all-around back. He’s really good and has shown that on a consistent basis.”
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Fournette, in his third season, is doing a better job of being patient as he awaits opportunities.
“I think his ability not to become frustrated has gotten better,” Marrone said.
“I think there were times, obviously we weren’t running the ball well, not doing a good job and he kind of just stayed on track and didn’t try to make plays all the time and then wound up having a good game and doing that, it’s given him the ability to make some big runs.”
During the streak without 100-yard individual rushers, there haven’t been that many opposing teams that have rushed for 100 yards against the Saints either. It happened just four times all of last season.
Tampa Bay had 112 yards in the season opener. Then seven consecutive opponents failed to get 100 yards. Then Cincinnati backup quarterback Jeff Driskel ran 27 yards for a late touchdown in a game New Orleans was leading 51-7 to propel the Bengals toward a final rushing total of 110 yards.
The Bucs did it again, getting 105 yards in the rematch, and in the regular-season finale Carolina rushed for 111 yards as the Saints rested a lot of starters after having secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Saints run defense didn’t start as well this season, allowing each of the first three opponents to rush for 100 yards even as individuals continued to fall short of triple digits.
Houston had 180 yards in the opener, the Los Angeles Rams had 115 the next week, then Seattle had 109.
But the last two weeks New Orleans had been smothering the run. Two weeks ago, Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, one of the elite running backs in the NFL was coming off consecutive 100-yard games, but the Cowboys totaled just 45 yards.
Then Tampa Bay’s streak of two straight 100-yard games against the Saints came to an end as the Bucs managed just 94 yards last week.
Davis signed with the Saints as a free agent last year and became the team’s leading tackler last season. This past offseason the Saints signed free agent defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, who has joined with David Onyemata, Sheldon Rankins and Taylor Stallworth to give New Orleans a deep rotation at defensive tackle.
“I think we’re deeper in the defensive line than we were a year ago,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
“Shoot, I think we’re better across the board. We dressed eight defensive linemen last week, which is a high number. I think that it’s hard to find good defensive lineman.
“You have to draft them or pay a lot for them and we’ve been able to do that. I think our depth at defensive tackle is noticeably different.”
Whether the streak continues against the Jaguars or not, the Saints’ primary goal is to add to improve their 4-1 record.
“It’s not about streaks, it’s about winning games,” Davis said. “Defensively we have to do our job to put our team in position to win games.
“There are a lot of streaks that happen, but at the end of the day it’s about putting your team in position to win games so you can be where you want to be at the end of the season.”