Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com reports that the Atlanta Falcons have placed running back Jerious Norwood on the injured reserve after he suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff of the team’s matchup last weekend vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported earlier today that it was a torn ACL in his right knee.
Norwood had thus far had limited usage offensively this year, with his only two carries coming for 8 yards in the season opener vs. the Steelers. He also had a reception for 9 yards in that game, and had been splitting reps with Eric Weems as the team’s kickoff returner. Injuries are nothing new for Norwood, who had only made it through a full 16-game schedule once since joining the Falcons in 2006.
To fill Norwood’s spot on the roster, the team signed running back Gartrell Johnson. Johnson was a fourth round pick with the San Diego Chargers last year, but was cut by that team at the end of camp. He was picked up by the New York Giants, and appeared in 10 games, carrying the ball 13 times for 43 yards (3.3 avg). The 5’10” 219-pound running back is more of a power runner than the speedy Norwood. You can read about Johnson in a scouting report included in the 2009 FalcFans.com Draft Guide.
The team did manage to add some speed at the position by signing Shawnbrey McNeal to the practice squad. McNeal was another cast-off of the San Diego Chargers and was an undrafted free agent this past year. You can read a scouting report on McNeal, posted here in the forums.
In the absence of Norwood, Antone Smith will likely be elevated up the depth chart and potentially get more reps on Sundays. Depth at running back is fairly thin with the loss of Norwood. Michael Turner suffered what Mike Smith termed a non-severe groin injury during the Week 2 game vs. Arizona. Jason Snelling is expected to get a heavier dose in the offense as he did against the Cardinals.
To free up a space on the team’s eight-man practice squad, the team parted ways with middle linebacker Bear Woods.