THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – For more than a year, quarterback Bryce Perkins patiently worked behind the scenes, trying to maximize every opportunity.
On Tuesday, it all paid off by earning a spot on the Rams' initial 53-man roster.
"I mean, it feels awesome," Perkins told theRams.com after Wednesday's practice. "I definitely wanted to open the offseason, really wanted to come back to training camp a better version of myself than I did in OTAs, and I really worked hard. I was going in with the mindset that I put the work in, and then whatever else happens, I'll be able to walk out of that really knowing that I got better personally. So everything worked out. I'm super excited. My family's excited for me. And now it just makes me want to work even harder, to elevate even more."
The accomplishment is all the more impressive when considering Perkins' path.
He originally joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia last year, and was among the many offensive rookies across the league who first began learning their schemes and systems in a virtual offseason program. Between preseason games and joint practices getting canceled and spending the majority of his first season on their practice squad – he was inactive after being promoted ahead of their divisional round playoff game against the Packers – the closest thing to live game reps before this year's three preseason games was the action he saw in a pair of intra-squad scrimmages.
While quarterback John Wolford handled scout team duties – meaning, being responsible for simulating an opponent's offensive tendencies for the Rams' defense in practice – Perkins still got valuable mental reps of the offense from watching him. Perkins credits the experience with helping him gain a greater understanding of the offense, which was further evidenced by the way he operated it across three preseason games last month.
Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, who also coaches the team's quarterbacks, was proud of Perkins' achievement, given how much time they had invested into his development over the last year-plus.
"That was a lot of fun for me from start to finish," said O'Connell, when asked what he had seen from Perkins over the last 3-4 weeks. "We obviously had a little bit limited offseason last year, no offseason leading into training camp. It was really no exposure to him other than some Zoom meetings before last year's training camp started. And then we start going to work with Bryce, and him and I set out on a plan that would culminate with him playing in these preseason games at a really high level, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of him for the work he put in behind the scenes to be prepared to play. Not always the most easiest of circumstances in those games, as you guys well know, but for him to lead that group, improve every single time he went out there, give us chances – I know we didn't come away with any victories – but for that group, he was leading out there and to put us in position to try to win football games."
Even those who haven't been around Perkins as long have seen improvement in that short amount of time.
"The strides he's made since I even got here and saw him for the first time really ever this spring and to where he is now – just really proud of him and it's a testament to him and the work that he has put into it," Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said after Tuesday's practice. "This is really important to him. You can tell the way he goes about his business. And then obviously he feels so prepared that he goes out there and plays the way he plays in the preseason games, which is awesome and really fun to watch."
As Perkins alluded to earlier, though, he knows the work is not done.
He was reminded as much when he spoke with his family to share the good news.
"I told my peoples," Perkins said. "My mom and brother and pop called me, super excited. My mom was like, 'Man, it's go-time now even more.' She knows the job's not done. She's excited for me, she wants me to work even harder to keep on improving."