Jerious Norwood’s role expanding

Falcons tailback Jerious Norwood is entering his third season, and he’s hearing the same projections of an increased role that he heard the previous two. The slow-talking, fast-running Norwood is guardedly optimistic that this coaching staff, unlike others, will finally get the ball in his hands enough for him to fulfill his game-changing potential.
“I’m still going to keep the same mentality that I have since I’ve been here, which is compete, be the best I can be, so when my time comes I can deliver,” said Norwood, who will backup free-agent acquisition Michael Turner. “Until then, I’ll just play my role.”
That role, at the very least, will be diverse. Norwood said he could line up at running back or any of the receiver spots, in a scheme that is based on establishing favorable matchups. The Falcons hope to get one of the NFL’s fastest running backs in open space against linebackers or safeties, where he can possibly add to his 7.7 yards per touch average.

“He’s a guy that can cause all kinds of problems for defensive coordinators,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith, a former defensive coordinator with Jacksonville. “Not strictly because of his speed but because of the potential matchup problems he can create. Jerious is a special athlete that can do a number of different things.”

Added Norwood: “There going to get me in some one-on-one matchups, so it’s going to be fun to see what happens.”

Norwood said he physically feels better prepared for his potentially larger role because of gains in strength he has made under the program established by new director of athletic performance (strength coach) Jeff Fish.

“We measure guys on functional strength, not raw strength, but strength in football related movements, core-based strength, and Jerious is one of our most functionally strong guys,” Smith said.

ajc.com
6/6/08