Jerious Norwood Out For Season With Torn ACL

The swift-but-fragile Mississippi State product went down on the opening kickoff in the Falcons home opener against Arizona, tearing his ACL.

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Falcons Sign RB Shawnbrey McNeal To Practice Squad, Release LB Bear Woods

JUST IN: Norwood placed on IR; Bear Woods' PS contract terminated; Falcons sign RBs Shawnbrey McNeal and Gartrell Johnson to PSless than a minute ago via Seesmic Desktop

And another scouting report from Bolts From The Blue:

Shawnbrey McNeal - A.J. Smith is a freaking genius. In 2005, he drafts a 5'5" (let's be honest here) RB that's 185 lbs. soaking wet and by 2008 he's one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL on kick returns, punt returns, as a RB or as a receiver. Seeing that the value on his tiny star has risen greatly, Smith goes ahead and offers him a lucrative short-term deal and goes out and finds a replacement. Nobody else is drafting these tiny speed guys to be RBs (although they're starting to copy him now) because they're so hard to find, and it would appear Smith just plucked out another one when he felt he needed to. McNeal is a younger Sproles. Before 2008, Darren was a practice star but was not quite ready to be the weapon he is today. He took time, he took seasoning. The same is true for McNeal, but the same potential is there was well. He's listed at 5'9", but I imagine it's closer to 5'7". He has great hands and great speed, but needs to learn to be more patient and also needs to learn how to take care of his body. With Sproles' contract up again at the end of this season, I think McNeal makes this team easily and probably has the inside track as the 3rd RB right now. He'll spend this year soaking up whatever he can from Darren, with plans to be the younger/cheaper replacement when 2011 rolls around. As I stated before, a lot of these UDFA RBs didn't get much of a chance in college until their final year. That's certainly true for Shawnbrey, who carried the ball 33 times in his first two years and 236 times in his third and final year. In 2009, he rushed for 1,188 yds (5.0 YPC) and 12 TDs along with catching the ball 31 times for 283 yds and 2 more scores. There's no doubt that the potential is there, and I think the Chargers are grooming him as the eventual replacement for Darren.

Here's a look at McNeal's character, courtesy of Mocking The Draft:

Shawnbrey McNeal didn't see the field much during his two years playing for Miami. That wasn't the major factor in him transferring to SMU, it was his mother. McNeal put in for a hardship waiver, and the NCAA granted it to him, allowing him to transfer to Southern Methodist, just twenty minutes from his mother who is dealing with diabetes related issues. After playing a season at SMU, his junior season, he left early to try to support his mother. McNeal was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers. Motivation is not the issue for McNeal, it is space: the Chargers have five running backs on their roster including McNeal, veteran Darren Sproles, and first-round pick Ryan Matthews. The good news for McNeal is that he is battling fellow undrafted free agents Curtis Brinkley (a one year veteran), and Marcus Mason (a three year veteran).
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With Jerious Norwood On IR, Falcons Sign Colorado State's Gartrell Johnson; Let's Meet Gartrell Johnson

Gartrell Johnson was drafted in the fourth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was inactive for one game, then waived. The Giants claimed him and kept him for almost a year, waiving him three weeks ago.

Johnson stands five-foot-ten and weighs 219 pounds, running a 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine; his physique is certainly more Turner/Snelling than Norwood.

At Colorado State Johnson was a dual threat, catching 32 passes for 295 yards and running for 1,476 in his senior year. His 375-yard performance in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl is the second-highest total yardage bowl day in NCAA history, behind only the Chris Johnson.

In high school, Johnson broke Willis McGahee’s season rushing record at Miami Springs.

Bolts From The Blue, SB Nation’s Chargers blog, offers a scouting report via Big Blue View:

OK, well let me start off by saying I was a big Gartrell Johnson fan. Anyone who saw his bowl game against Fresno State would be, and I watched it live. Here’s as good of a scouting report as I can give on Gartrell:

Gartrell is a power back, through and through. Or at least he will be one some day. The Chargers were holding onto him because they loved his potential, but he really needs to learn to stay low after first contact. Too often he would hit somebody (sometimes his own lineman) and get stood up, then immediately get taken down. His size also makes him less-than-ideal for the power back spot, but the kid runs with strength and hits with violence.

There are negatives in his game though. For one, he has zero speed. I doubt he ever takes a carry for more than 15 yards in his entire NFL career. There were two instances in the preseason where he had nobody in front of him and was caught from behind easily by a LB. The second flaw is patience, which isn’t rare for a rookie. He has a hard time waiting for the hole to develop, partly because he’s almost at full-speed when he gets the ball (I loved that about him), and can ruin plays that way.

If Gartrell can become more patient and stay low to the ground, he has a real future as a goal-line back in the NFL. He wasn’t cut because of anything he did, but rather because the Chargers need bodies for all of the injuries that are stacking up on both lines. Also, Michael Bennett completely and totally outperformed Gartrell in the pre-season.

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