Smith: Rodgers Took Advantage of 2012 Role


Before the 2012 season began, Falcons head coach Mike Smith said he felt the offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter would feature a more varied passing attack along with a running game that found production in a number of places.

One of the players that emerged last season for the Falcons was running back Jacquizz Rodgers and he was the key benefactor of a running back attack that spread the carries around. He gained 362 yards as a rusher and added 352 yards on 49 receptions, averaging 23.5 yards per catch. He added a touchdown as a rusher and a receiver as well and Smith said this week at the NFL Combine that in addition to being the team's kick returner, Rodgers showed that he can handle all three downs with the offense.

When Rodgers joined the team last season as a fifth-round pick draft pick, many believed the five-foot-six running back would just spell the other backs on the roster. Instead he showed that he's a player that can stay on the field.

"We thought he was only going to be a change of pace back," Smith said. "We found out very quickly that even though he is short, he is not little. He can handle all three downs and he does a very good job for us returning kicks."

Rodgers quickly showed he was tough enough to run inside and his blocking has improved tremendously in his two seasons. This past season with more carries as the season wore on he repeatedly ran over would-be tacklers and was responsible for a few key blocks in passing situations for Matt Ryan in the playoffs.

In his limited opportunities last season, Rodgers showed he can be a factor for the Falcons. His touches nearly doubled from his rookie season to 2012 and after his play last year the plays called for Rodgers likely won't decrease.

Smith said he was pleased with what Rodgers contributed last season

"I think Jacquizz took advantage of his opportunities this year in terms of production (and) he did a nice job," Smith said.

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