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dunn not concerned about who's his backup

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dunn not concerned about who's his backup

by steve wyche

the atlanta journal-constitution

published on: 11/08/07

flowery branch jerious norwood's limp has lessened, and by game time sunday at nfc south rival carolina the falcons' speedy running back said he'll be ready.

"if everything plays out, i should be up ready to go," norwood said wednesday.

norwood can take as much time as he needs to get to full strength, said bruiser artose pinner, who desperately wants increased action and would ascend to the no. 2 tailback spot if norwood's sprained right ankle isn't healed.

"i've always been that guy that when my number's been called, i've taken advantage of that opportunity," said pinner, a four-year veteran. "i've been prepared for this for eight weeks now."

starter warrick dunn is not worried about who's behind him because he said he proved last week, when he gained 100 yards on 27 carries in a 20-16 victory over san francisco, that the more he's worked, the more productive he is so feed him the rock.

"any back would say yes" to more carries, dunn said. "i'm no different. if that happens you can be patient, take chances instead of running on and off the field, when you try to get the most out of that carry. when you're getting consistent carries you take more chances to make thing happen."

suddenly, a group of players that seemed like an afterthought in the new offensive scheme implemented by coach bobby petrino and offensive coordinator hue jackson are going all forrest gump they want to run and run and run.

"we'd like to build on running the football, see if we can get better this week, take off from last week's performance," petrino said.

the focus of getting things rolling on the ground comes after atlanta gained a season-high 155 rushing yards against san francisco. dunn reached 100 yards for the first time in a year, and the offensive line and fullback ovie mughelli want more.

it probably will be tougher sledding against carolina, but the overall mood seems to have shifted.

petrino's probably going to call for the run and stick with it unless the falcons fall far behind. the backs are hungry now that they've finally had a taste of success. the line feels it has regained some of the swagger it had the past three seasons, when atlanta led the nfl in rushing.

the front five could also get a boost with the return of starter todd weiner from knee surgery. weiner has missed the past three games after having loose particles removed from his left knee.

the question is where he will play. tyson clabo has done well in weiner's place at right tackle, and quinn ojinnaka performed adequately against san francisco in his first start at left tackle. weiner worked at both spots at practice wednesday and said he could play either position.

"i've done that my whole career, playing both sides," weiner said. "we don't know how that's going to go yet. i'm real excited to be back out there."

the falcons surpassed 100 yards rushing just once before last weekend 103 in a 31-10 loss to the giants and dunn and norwood never got into any type of rhythm over the first six games. that forced petrino to throw the ball more than he would have liked and hurt the falcons when they had to manipulate the game clock.

things were out of sync from the play of the offensive line to the timing and effectiveness of the running backs. dunn, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past three seasons, had just 292 yards before last sunday.

"the year has been frustrating," said dunn, who is 147 yards from joining an exclusive group of runners to reach the 10,000-yard mark. "it's just been one of those things that hasn't fallen my way. the other day i had opportunities. my body's feeling good. i'm starting to see things better. i understand the running game in our offense a lot better.

"it's just a matter of time before things come together."

sorry if already posted sad.gif


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