Former Mississippi State running back Jerious Norwood will start Friday night in the Atlanta Falcons preseason opener against the New York Jets. He'll be filling in for Warrick Dunn, who is recovering from back surgery.
Dunn is scheduled to return by the start of the regular season, but may find Norwood has siphoned away some of his playing time by then.
Norwood, a 2006 third-round pick from Brandon, averaged more than six yards a carry as a rookie with touchdown runs of 78 and 64 yards. Norwood's speed should be a good fit for first-year coach Bobby Petrino's offense, and his skills as a receiver out of the backfield should make him even more valuable.
Norwood rushed for 633 yards and ranked second in the league with 424 yards rushing in the fourth quarter, trailing only Kansas City's Larry Johnson's 430 yards. While Johnson averaged just under four yards on 110 carries in the fourth quarter, Norwood averaged more than eight yards on 49 carries.