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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).

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.