You can forgive Jerious Norwood for feeling like a man wandering the desert.
Over the last two years, the third round draft pick had done nothing but impress in his very limited chances. He got few carries under Jim Mora Jr., and Bobby Petrino further suppressed him. When you're a guy averaging well over five yards a carry, you have to ask why anybody would keep you on the bench when the guys in front of you aren't nearly as effective. Norwood should've spent the first two years as an effective complement getting 10-15 touches a game, as he's also quite a talented pass-catching back. Instead, his season high last year was 11 carries, with Warrick Dunn managing less than three yards a carry on the ground.
Now it appears that Norwood is finally getting his due, and it's come with a more talented guy still getting the bulk of the load. According to the AJC, the coaching staff has recognized Norwood's potential and are rolling out plays to use him in:
“We anticipate Jerious to be a very integral part of our offense,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We feel like we have to have two guys who can carry the load. Jerious and Michael created quite a tandem in terms of what they create for defensive coordinators.”
For some perspective here, realize that Norwood had 14 carries in his first game of this season, caught a couple passes, returned a couple kicks and even made a couple of tackles on special teams. The kid is an incredibly talented backup and forms a perfect complement for Turner, so to see the coaching staff exercising some, um, common sense is a bit refreshing. WIth any luck, they'll keep this promise for the rest of the season.
Thoughts on Norwood?