FLOWERY BRANCH – During the recently completed minicamp, we chatted with running backs coach Gerald Brown, who’s set to enter his 27th year as a coach.
Brown has been with the Falcons since 2008 and has resided over Michael Turner and Ovie Mughelli’s climb to Pro Bowl status, while developing key backups like Jason Snelling, Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers.
He’ll be charged with picking a replacement for Mughelli, who was waived this offseason.
Here are excerpts from the interview with Brown:
ON THE FULLBACKS: They have been looking pretty good in practice. They are competing. Last year, [Mike] Cox ended up playing from the Indy game on. He’s an NFL veteran. Last year, being in the system has helped him a lot. [Rookie Bradie] Ewing has done some really good things since he’s been here. We are happy about the competition that we have at the position right now.
ON RUNNING BACK MICHAEL TURNER: He’s been looking really well. Physically, he’s running the ball well. He’s right on pace, where he should be. We expect the same thing that he’s been giving us. Right now, we’ve got five tailbacks: Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, Dimitri Nance and Robbie Frey. We are trying to work all of those guys in, but Mike is looking good.
ON IF THE RUNNNING BACK’S ROLE WILL CHANGE IN THE NEW ATTACK: Michael has been our workhorse for a few years. We discussed the possibility of making sure that we monitor his reps so that he can stay strong for us through the season and into December. We feel very good about Jason Snelling and Jacquizz, too.
This year [Rodgers] is going through the offseason and that is going to help him. Snell is a veteran. He’s been there. When Michael is not in there, we feel comfortable with those guys being able to carry the load in both the run and the pass game.
MORE ON JACQUIZZ: What he was able to do with not having an offseason, we thought was really good for us and for him to step in and be able to contribute like he did [last season.] This offseason again, we think it can do nothing but make him a better player. Even last year, when we game planned, we made sure that Quizz had some touches because he can do some things in the run and pass game. He’s an explosive player and we’ll try to get him the ball.
Per the league’s media policy, there are minimum requirements for offseason access to the coaching staff. The Falcons went well beyond those minimums this offseason in making assistant coaches available to the media. Here are some of the other interviews with the coaching staff in case you missed them.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog