clear
Wednesday September 2nd, 2015 12:28AM

Jacquizz Rodgers could take lead for Falcons

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
FLOWERY BRANCH -- This could be Jacquizz Rodgers' week to be more than a complement to Michael Turner in the Atlanta Falcons' running game.

Rodgers has seen a steady increase in carries and has been the team's leading rushing in two of the last four games. Still, he has remained the clear backup to Turner, who has had more carries than Rodgers in each of Atlanta's 12 games.

That could change Sunday at Carolina.

Turner was limited in practice on Thursday for the second straight day with a left elbow injury. He had a wrap on the elbow, which he hurt in the Falcons' win over New Orleans on Nov. 29.

Coach Mike Smith said he expects Turner will play against the Panthers. Smith said Rodgers has proved he can be the lead back if needed.

"Absolutely," Smith said after Thursday's practice. "Jacquizz is one of many guys we feel like deserves to get touches on our offense. If need be we think he can take carries that other guys may get in other games."

Rodgers has a combined 18 carries for 82 yards the last two games - his top totals for back-to-back weeks this season.

"You get a feel for the game when you touch the ball more," Rodgers said. "Things come to you more easily when you have a better feel for the game."

This week's possible opportunity for Rodgers comes as Turner's production has dipped. Turner averaged 4.0 yards per carry in the Falcons' first eight games and only 3.0 in the last four games. He was held to 15 yards on 13 carries at New Orleans on Nov. 11 and 17 yards on 13 carries at Tampa Bay on Nov. 25.

At 5-foot-6 and 188 pounds, Rodgers can disappear behind offensive linemen, and he is quick and shifty in open field.

Rodgers made his first impact as a rookie last season with his receiving skills. That role has expanded this season, as he ranks fourth on the team with 37 catches for 284 yards and a touchdown.

He has 274 yards rushing with a touchdown and slowly has proved he can be more than a back who plays on passing situations.

"He's been huge for us," said tight end Tony Gonzalez. "I was just talking about that in the meeting room, how big he's been for us this year. With his quickness, his ability to make people miss, he's coming up with plays in the game in our four-minute offense to close out the clock. He's been great."

Rodgers has never had more than 10 carries in a game. He reached that total for only the third time in his career when he rushed for 49 yards with a touchdown against Tampa Bay. He added 43 yards rushing against the Saints on Nov. 29.

The Falcons have found more ways to get the ball to Rodgers in space, where he can take advantage of his elusiveness. He has had long runs of 43, 20, 18 and 14 yards and is averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

"I'm just making plays when I'm in there so my number can be called more often," Rodgers said. "That's the main thing, taking advantages of my small opportunities that I do have when I get the ball."

Rodgers said he's preparing for a possible bigger role this week, but he said that is his mindset every week.

"All the running backs, we practice to be ready," he said. "We all practice different situations, preparing just in case we're in that position at any point."

Receiver Roddy White said Rodgers could produce more big plays if he had more carries.

"He's hard to tackle in space," White said. "I have hardly seen anybody tackle him in space. That's one of the attributes he brings to the team, in one-on-one matchups he doesn't get tackled.

"It's good to have a guy like that you can put out there that's a matchup problem for the defense. He's also good at screens and stuff. The more opportunities we can put the ball in his hands, it will be good."

NOTES: Asked about Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy's statement that the Panthers are a better team than the Falcons, despite Carolina's 30-28 loss in Atlanta on Sept. 30, White said "They've got to say something. They're fighting, they're holding on. They're in a different position than we are. They're trying to save the rest of their season and we're trying to prepare ourselves for this playoff run." ... Cornerback Asante Samuel (right shoulder) and safety William Moore (hamstring) were held out of practice for the second straight day. Smith said he will "definitely be very cautious" with Samuel, who lasted only three plays against the Saints after first hurting the shoulder against Arizona on Nov. 18. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry (thigh) practiced on a limited basis.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Williams, Horford pace Hawks past Indiana
Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and the Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight, 109-100 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
10:19PM ( 2 years ago )
Gwinnett wallops Greenville, 6-2
Five different Gladiators racked up multiple points, as Gwinnett dominated the Greenville Road Warriors 6-2 Saturday night at the BI-LO Center to move into a tie atop the South Division with Greenville.
10:05PM ( 2 years ago )
Teague leads Hawks past Cavaliers, 102-94
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 27 points and the Atlanta Hawks scored the game's final nine points to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-94 on Friday night.
10:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Professional Sports
Falcons head into region opener with unexpected QB battle
There was NO quarterback controversy for Flowery Branch coming into this season.
8:00PM ( 19 hours from now )
Softball: Buford fends off North Hall challenge, 9-8
Buford softball is still the gold standard in Region 8-AAAA -- and Class AAAA for that matter -- but the Lady Wolves could feel the collective breath of North Hall on their neck on Tuesday.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:16AM ( 10 hours from now )
No. 9 Georgia players not fazed by Lambert winning QB job
The big quarterback decision has been made. That clears the way for No. 9 Georgia to sharpen its focus on the season.
10:57AM ( 10 hours from now )
Jake Matthews, Brooks Reed to miss Falcons' preseason finale
Coach Dan Quinn is hoping the Atlanta Falcons' list of injuries doesn't get any longer...
10:55AM ( 10 hours from now )
Piedmont women's soccer team opens season win dominating fashion
It didn't take long for the Piedmont College women's soccer team to find its groove offensively, as the Lady Lions opened 2015 with a bang on Tuesday, knocking off Agnes Scott College 7-0 in Decatur.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:09AM ( 19 minutes ago )