Peria Jerry’s torn knee ligament in Week 2 did more than end his season. It rocked the team’s defensive tackle rotation and hurt the pass rush — something the Falcons lacked at points for the rest of the 2009 campaign.
But Jerry is making progress in his recovery and has been a regular in team’s Flowery Branch headquarters through this point of the offseason.
“It’s a process I’m going through; I’m doing everything they ask me to do and working to get better to come back and play next season,” he said Thursday after finishing some time in the weight room.
Jerry, the No. 24 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, earned a starting job next to Jonathan Babineaux out of training camp and by all accounts had the skills to make an immediate impact on defense. The Falcons had just two games with two or more sacks after Jerry was placed on injured reserve and finished the year ranked 26th in that category (28 sacks).
As a junior at Ole Miss Jerry recorded 58 tackles (14 for loss). The team ranked fourth in the nation in rushing defense in 2008 after ranking 101st the previous year. He led the SEC with 18 tackles for loss as a senior and registered 10.5 sacks over his last two years in Oxford.
If there’s a bright side to the injury — for the team and Jerry — it’s the ability to get younger players more exposure to the game. In Jerry’s case, exposure came in the film room.
“I think it will help me understand the game more,” he said. “I’ve been watching film and really seeing how the game is played. Watching film kept me prepared on the mental side. I missed the game a lot but I’m working hard to get better.”
He says he’s working in the weight room to build strength for offseason workouts. He should be ready to participate.
“Everything is on schedule,” Jerry said. “I’m happy with that and everything is going good. We’re just going to keep grinding it out and see what happens.”