Can Dimitri Nance beat out Jerious Norwood?

FLOWERY BRANCH – Running back Dimitri Nance’s final numbers for the Chiefs game weren’t gaudy.

Atlanta Falcons running back Dimitri Nance (30) does a little "Dirty Bird" dance in the endzone after scoring a 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs during 4th quarter action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons running back Dimitri Nance (30) does a little "Dirty Bird" dance in the endzone after scoring a 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs during 4th quarter action in the exhibition season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 13, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

He has seven carries for 6 yards and scored two touchdowns. He caught two passes for 26 yards.

But he sure looked good buzzing around the field and those scoring two touchdowns.

Before everybody gets all excited, you have to remember that he scored those two touchdowns against the Chiefs reserves. The Chiefs starters were ranked 31st against the rush last year.

“It’s good to see young guys that are new in our system, to come out and have some success,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Dimitri has to continue to not only develop on the offensive side, but be has to continue to work on special teams. That’s going to be a key for him in making our roster.”

Nance, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, is one of two Texas 5A high school players to rush for more than 3,000 yards. The other player is Cincinnati Bengal Cedric Benson. Nance ran for 3,173 yards on 341 carries and scored 41 touchdowns for  Euless (Tx.) Trinity High.

He’s a little spark plug back at 5-foot-11, 211 pounds and  believes a shoulder injury that caused him to miss three games (Stanford, California and USC) hurt his draft status.

“I thought I had a pretty good senior season and missed about three games,” Nance said. “I think that might have hurt me a little bit. I knew I could get a free agent deal, get into some camp and work hard.”

He played on special teams as a freshman and sophomore for the Sun Devils.

“Now, I’m going to have to play special teams,” Nance said. “I have to get in there and learn it and get as high on the depth chart as I can.”

He is on the punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return units.

Backup running back Jerious Norwood has missed most of camp with a hip flexor. He’s suffered an injury in three of his four seasons and only played in 10 games last year. Norwood  (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) is faster than Nance (4.64 in the 40), but perhaps Nance is more durable.

Nance, who’s listed fifth on the depth chart, behind Michael Turner, Norwood, Jason Snelling and Antone Smith, has to still be considered a super longshot to make the team let alone supplant Norwood.

I only asked the question because I wanted to know what you all have to say about the running back situation.

Let commenting begin!

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

Monday, August 16 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Tuesday, August 17 — Practice 8:30 – 10:55 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:35 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH NEW ENGLAND.

Wednesday, August 18 — Practice 10:15 – 11:35 a.m. (closed to public).

Thursday, August 19 — Preseason Week 2 vs. New England 8 p.m.

Friday, August 20 — No Practice.

Saturday, August 21 — 9:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. (closed to the public); 3:45 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Sunday, August 22 — 9:35 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (closed to the public)

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

134 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

August 16th, 2010
7:06 am

D.O.L.: I know the falcants are slow on both sides of the snap, but that’s no reason to set that count down clock on the AJC.Com falcant web page slow by an hour. By the time that clock shows all zeros, your first game of the year will be in its second quarter.

GEAUX SAINTS! OUR TIME!!

bigslow

August 16th, 2010
7:20 am

How can Norwood keep his starting job if he can’t stay on the field.

theriddler

August 16th, 2010
7:26 am

Our offensive personnel sets and play calling mystify me, so it doesn’t matter, Norwood/Nance will not be used properly anyway.

Dukester

August 16th, 2010
7:34 am

@theriddler I agree but here is my take. So many teams try to cater their offenses to their star offensive player (Matt Ryan) to kinda make him the star. Matt was most successful his first year when we ran the ball!!! I know some may not like this but Matt is a game manager not a star. If he gets more than 20-25 throws a game we are done. Look at his stats when he throws over 30 passes a game. We are better with 2 rushes and a pass to the tight end and a occasional pass to the receivers. We dont have a standout defense so ball control fits this team.

nes

August 16th, 2010
7:34 am

Good Morning! Norwood can’t say healthy, when he is well he is very fast and valuable to the team! He opens up the middle and gives Ryan an added outlet on swing passes. However, that is the key is staying healthy, otherwise he might be in a battle just to make the team this year. On the offense, anyone else besides me tired of the fake handoff and Ryan rolling out and running for his life? Seems most teams have that figured out now. The defense looks more proactive and not reactive, great team speed! New secondary coach has defensive backs turning around and playing the ball better.

joe

August 16th, 2010
7:37 am

I always liked Norwood, but he is constantly hurt so at some point you have to ask is he a wasted roster spot?

Realist

August 16th, 2010
7:39 am

Is this a joke? Every team in the NFL would love to have a Norwood at backup RB. Any team can find a Nance on the waiver wire.

LOL

August 16th, 2010
7:51 am

I love how the Aints win their first Super Bowl and all of a sudden they are the biggest thing to ever grace a football field. If we weren’t plagued with injuries last year we would have won both games against them. The Aints need to geaux away. Who dat? Who cares. Let’s see you run your mouth this season when the Falcons beat you and take your NFC South/NFC Championship crown.

DJ

August 16th, 2010
7:52 am

No way. Neither the Saints nor the Panthers have an answer for Norwood and the Bucs are way back in the rearview mirror.

Just for the record, your time was last year. No more road refs – you’ll be lucky to go 8-8 and Norwood will put at least one 60yd + TD on you just like he did in your “fantastic” 8-8 season. Get ready to compete with the Bucs for last in the South.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ATLHOMER and Michael Robinson, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Can Dimitri Nance beat out Jerious Norwood? http://bit.ly/a5hZSr [...]

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

August 16th, 2010
7:57 am

see how the rest of the preseason works out for Nance. I still like Snelling over Norwood for backup RB.

suwaneefalcon

August 16th, 2010
8:00 am

At this point I would rather take my chances on a healthy Nance then an oft-injured Norwood. It would be a great plus if Norwood could stay healthy the entire season but, it is not the way history reports it. We need a player like him and if Nance fits the bill then keep him and play him.

Big Dawg

August 16th, 2010
8:04 am

Trade Norwood. He can’t make a play from the training room.

Some Sense

August 16th, 2010
8:07 am

Third down sweeps are what’s called “grab bag” plays.

Walker, Texas Ranger

August 16th, 2010
8:11 am

Can Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?

suwaneefalcon

August 16th, 2010
8:11 am

realist, you think NFL teams would be lining up to sign this guy with his history of injuries? If they did, I don’t think he would get the $$$ he is currently with the Falcons.

slawdawg

August 16th, 2010
8:12 am

You people are such geniuses. Why aren’t you coaching somewhere?

Sid

August 16th, 2010
8:20 am

The Nance Dance……………..kid looked good!!

DJ

August 16th, 2010
8:24 am

Nance hasn’t had 1 carry yet in the regular season yet but you all have him ahead of a guy that has a proven record as a home run threat.

Give me a break. I don’t want our defense to see Norwood so keep him.

falcon

August 16th, 2010
8:26 am

we need speed at RB. If Norwood can’t stay healthy, we need someone quicker than 4.6. Snelling looked slow vs the Chiefs.

PreyDawg

August 16th, 2010
8:28 am

Norwood is a home run hitter…but only about 3 or 4 times a season. The rest of the time he is in the training room. I really loved the guy coming out of college but lets face it, he cant stay healthy for beans.

Another thing. I have never in my life seen an NFL caliber athelete like Norwood FALL DOWN so much. I tape the Falcons games. Look back at the tape if you have it and notice how many times Norwood stumbles and falls without being touched. He reminds me of the old leather helmet guys that used to have Nicknames like Crazy legs. His legs are all over the place when he runs. I think this is part of the reason he has so many hip flexor problems.

ICEMANcometh10

August 16th, 2010
8:31 am

Jerrious has to stay healthy this year, bottom line. I also like Snelling as a viable # 2 who is capable of carrying the load. NO team wants damaged goods so trading him would not even be equilvalent to picking up a Nance on the waiver wire…………………………..

Paddy

August 16th, 2010
8:32 am

From what I have seen, the Falcons have patience with players. Thats good news for Norwood. He can still get on the field these last 3 pre-season games. Because of his potential gamebreaking speed, he gets a longer than usual pass on practice reps.

With that said, once he proves he can.t hold up his end of the deal because of health issues, he is traded or OR’ed. CS is too close to having a great team. He is not going into battle without all his weapons!

D Falcons

August 16th, 2010
8:33 am

I think it’s too early to make a call on Nance. Let’s see what he does against some teams that knew how to play football last year. As for Norwood, he seems to be the ultimate “looks good on paper” guy. We get a few flashes each year of this guy’s ability, but he just can’t stay on the field enough for us to count on him. He should be a triple threat in the running game, passing game and special teams, but he stays so dinged up that the coaches can’t just pencil him into a game plan. How many game plans do you think have been altered because of his multiple injuries. It’s time to cut him.

Joe Tess Fish House

August 16th, 2010
8:34 am

Would TO beat out Jenkins for a roster spot?

Only if he was signed…..Way to go Falcants. Say hello to another losing season

FalconTransplant

August 16th, 2010
8:36 am

I was a big fan of 32 his first year and during his 2nd I was pulling for him after the injury. But then he just could put together a complete season. Last year it was 2 concussions and a hip flexor and now this year another hip flexor? really? Ok so maybe it’s time we move on?

As far as Nance? I was really hoping that one of these two (A.Smith) would step up and challange our top 3. It looks like at least one of them has. I understand the questionable compitition level (KC Def #31) however, if we can cut a TE that won a national championship because of poor performance and injuries I believe we can do the same with 32 for the sane reason. Just as long as either Nance or Smith show the coaching staff they are capable of being consistant.

DJ

August 16th, 2010
8:38 am

So I guess you all want to get rid of Turner too. He spent half of last season injured which means 1/4 of his time as a Falcon he was injured.

The only answer the league has for Norwood (and Turner) is to get him out of the game. I like our chances with Norwood ready to play at any time vs. an unproven rookie that looks like any other 3rd string runner.

Richard Dawson

August 16th, 2010
8:43 am

IIRC, Nance played pretty good against UGA last season. I remember taking note of him. Had some nice plays on shuttle passes and screens, if memory serves. Will be interesting to see if he can make the team.

rekingball

August 16th, 2010
8:44 am

This Thursday will tell more of the story.

Joshua

August 16th, 2010
8:45 am

I like Norwood. I do think that his durability is an issue but he is one of the best burst speed RB’s that we have had. He is not a bruiser back which is why he has durability issues. Physically he is more of a seams runner. If he can find open air he will get 20+ easily. Again if he has to take punishment he is not built for it. He would make a better third than a second.

blord

August 16th, 2010
8:47 am

Nance and Smith both played well IMO. I will just wait to see more before yelling for us to kick Norwood to the curve.

robdawg08

August 16th, 2010
8:49 am

Norwood is a great RB when healthy. This Nance guy must be very good to have a 3,000 yards rushing high school career. Play him on special teams and then he will be ready to step in at RB if Norwood gets a hang nail. I’m more concerned at WR after R.White since M.Jenkins is out. Is H.Douglas and B.Finneran the answers ?

Birdseed: August 16 | Atlanta Falcons

August 16th, 2010
8:49 am

[...] The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter wonders if undrafted rookie running back Dimitri Nance can beat out Jerious Norwood. [...]

robdawg08

August 16th, 2010
8:50 am

Call up Marvin Harrison. I’m sure he would play.

DJ

August 16th, 2010
8:53 am

Instead of getting on Norwood or the coaches for not using Norwood “properly” how about asking the question “Can Matt Ryan execute a screen pass”? So far, the answer is no.

This offense has spent 2 years trying to set up a Norwood screen (i.e. instant touchdown). Maybe Matt needs a little more work getting the ball out to the RB as a primary receiver.

BKJ

August 16th, 2010
8:55 am

I thought Antone Smith actually looked a little better than Nance. He’s the one who set up those short yardage TDs for Nance. Norwood will make the final roster over both those guys, but whoever sticks to the practice squad should be ready because it’s inevitable that Norwood is going to miss some games.

wind, rain, oil, FALCONS

August 16th, 2010
9:08 am

To all of the Saints fans on our blog: We will find out the third game of the season. It’s not long. We’re gonna come into the cesspool, run the ball 40 times, and you’re gonna have to play catch up the rest of the year. Get ready, cause it’s coming.

Cut Norwood

August 16th, 2010
9:11 am

Jesus, has the guy been able to play a full game for us since his rookie season. Get him off the team, just wasting salary.

MS. Bully

August 16th, 2010
9:11 am

Norwood is a great back. He deserves the spot once he gets healthy. Norwood is a real Bulldog from the great State of Mississippi!!.. Go Norwood!!

athensjack

August 16th, 2010
9:16 am

Norwood is, at times, a superb running back, but is too injury prone and can’t be depended upon because he’s hurt so often. Gave Nance a chance!!!

isproab

August 16th, 2010
9:21 am

WOW, how quickly “fans” change. Going into 2008 everybody was amazed by Norwood and wanted him on the field more because some thought he could be an every down back. It is easy to tell by looking at him that he is not built for that. However, he does have a place on this team.

2009 was a bad year for the Falcons all around in terms of health. In 2009 Norwood missed 6 games, the prior 3 years he missed a total of 3 games. Falcons only signed Norwood to a 1 year deal and I’m putting my money on them keeping him. He adds too much when he is healthy. Nance seems like a good backup, a guy that can handle the load, but he is not going to be a return man or a threat to break open the game like Norwood, he does not bring the game breaking ability that Norwood does and we have Snelling as a backup every down type back.

BeefATL72

August 16th, 2010
9:24 am

Snelling IS the backup RB to Turner. Norwood isn’t a backup RB, he’s the starting slot-back. It’s a completely different set/formation for the OLine & receivers when he’s in compared to Turner or Snelling.

Norwood can be a game changer causing a momentum shift at any moment. There’s very few backs in the league who possess that ability. He’s not going anywhere. We just need him to learn the difference between “pain” and actual “injury”, grow a pair & get his a** on the field. He’s got a contract to work for this year so I believe we’ll see him take that approach for a change once the real season starts.

Cannonball Butler

August 16th, 2010
9:26 am

Let’s see 7 yards on 6 carries against the Chiefs reserves. His only chance is if he is a great special teams player but it sounds like he has some work to do there. Backs like him are a dime a dozen

SeenThisB4

August 16th, 2010
9:35 am

@ Wind, rain, oil FALCANTS: You guys will be playing catch up well before the third game of the season.

It’s fairly plain and simple and stands out clearly, that Norwood is an injury bust. But, you guys hold on to him, cause you can use his injuries as part of the excuse to falling short, again.

DA AINTS FANS CALLING US DA FALCANTS IS FUNNY

August 16th, 2010
9:42 am

CUT NORWOOD,HE IS OVERRATED

D Money

August 16th, 2010
9:43 am

It’s pre-season people. There are a number of guys across the league that are hurt. I would love for Norwood to be ready to go now but as long as he’s ready for the season, that’s fine with me. Remember everybody said that Reggie Bush couldn’t take the pounding when he came into the league and now he’s making plays and walking around with a championship ring on his finger. Be careful what you wish for because Norwood could end up somewhere in our division. It’s not Norwood, it’s how the Falcons are using Norwood.

Paddy

August 16th, 2010
9:45 am

Joe Tess….give it up pal,geez. What a maroon!

Mark

August 16th, 2010
9:45 am

Good take on the running back, Jerrious is very valued with his ability to break off a big gain, but he cannot stay healty. Bottom line if a guy like Nance shows some play making ability for the rest of training camp look for him to make the roster or practice squad. To the Saints fan on this blog, if Bret and Payton do not choke in crunch time you season would have been toast. Your defense is weak at best, ours is getting better all the time, Drew Brees is going to see the differenc. We nearly beat you with Chris Redman.

Joe Tess Fish House

August 16th, 2010
9:50 am

Whats a maroon?

Maroon 5?
Marooned on Giligans Island?

Just Saying...

August 16th, 2010
9:55 am

Norwood, a great kid, just cannot stay on his feet.