The fact that James Rodgers is the brother of Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers probably didn't hurt his chances to sign with Atlanta as a college free agent after the draft, but it's not the only reason he's been added to the roster.
The 5-foot-7, 188-pound receiver established an Oregon State University record with 222 career receptions and his 91 catches in 2009 also stands as a school record. During his five seasons at Oregon State (he received a medical redshirt in 2010) he gained 6,366 all-purpose yards, another school record. He's also the first player at OSU to record 1,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards.
Concerns about a knee injury that cut his 2010 season short caused Rodgers' stock to drop some, but he returned in 2011 for the Beavers and played in nine games. He began his college career as a running back, gaining 586 yards as a freshman in 2007 with three touchdowns. He began to convert to more of a full-time receiver the following year and his receptions jumped to 51 and then 91 in '09.
In addition to being a versatile playmaker on offense, Rodgers brings impressive return skills to the Falcons. Though he's got the ability to compete at wide receiver in the NFL, his best chance of making the Falcons roster may come because of his return ability. With the exit of last year's return man, Eric Weems, in free agency, Atlanta's returner role is wide open.
Rodgers totaled 86 kick returns while at Oregon State. He returned one kick for a touchdown, but he demonstrated an ability to create positive returns, never average less than 23.3 yards per return during any one season. He also had longs of 86, 84 and 63 yards as a kick returner.
He's also an accomplished punt returner. In his five seasons, he returned 19 punts as the team's primary returner during 2009 and 2010. He averaged 13.7 yards per punt return. He had one touchdown and had longs of 33 yards and 54 yards.
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