Falcons RB Norwood out for season with knee injury

The Atlanta Falcons placed backup running back Jerious Norwood

on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday because of a knee

injury, forcing the team to make two moves to add depth.

Norwood was Michael Turner’s top backup before hurting his right

knee on a kickoff return at the start of a 41-7 win over the

Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The Falcons signed two running backs on Tuesday. Gartrell

Johnson III was added to the active roster, and Shawnbrey McNeal

joined the practice squad.

Johnson had 13 carries for 43 yards in 10 games with the New

York Giants in 2009.

Turner also left Sunday’s game with a groin injury. Falcons

coach Mike Smith said Turner could have returned to the game if

needed. Turner is expected to start this week at New Orleans.

Jason Snelling rushed for 129 yards, caught five passes and

scored three touchdowns while playing behind Turner and Norwood.

Snelling is expected to move up as Turner’s top backup against the

Saints.

A long series of injuries, including a concussion and hip injury

last year, have limited Norwood.

Norwood missed six games in 2009, when he had a career-low 252

yards rushing in 10 games, including four starts.

”Unfortunately, Jerious has had some bumps and bruises and some

missed time since we’ve been here, but he is a very talented

football player and he’s been a guy that’s contributed to the

success that we’ve had,” Smith said Monday.

”You like the speed of him as a running back and as a

specialist and he’s been able to contribute for us the past two

years. There’s always a sense of frustration anytime you don’t have

your best players out there on the field.”

Through it all, Norwood has retained his positive outlook and

constant grin.

”It’s all a part of football,” Norwood said earlier this year

of his inability to remain healthy. ”You have guys who get hurt

all the time. It’s been pretty frustrating. But being the type of

person I am, I always try to have a positive attitude.”

Norwood was a 2006 third-round draft pick from Mississippi State

who added speed and big-play potential to the Falcons as a running

back and return specialist.

He looked like a future starter when he had 633 yards rushing,

averaging 6.4 yards per carry, as a rookie in 2006. He added 613

yards rushing in 2007 and 489 yards in 2008 – the only season in

which he played in all 16 regular-season games.

Johnson was a fourth-round pick by San Diego in 2009. He was

signed by the Giants on Sept. 15, 2009, after being waived by the

Chargers.

The Falcons lost running back Dimitri Nance off their practice

squad last week when he signed with Green Bay.

Linebacker Bear Woods was released from the practice squad to

clear a spot for McNeal. McNeal was waived by San Diego following

training camp after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent from

Southern Methodist.