NFL news of November 19, 2002

Mobile quarterbacks are at a premium, cover cornerbacks remain vital, bigger receivers still rule, tight ends have a new place in the passing game and linebackers who can defend the run and pass equally remain scarce—those are among the prime themes through 11 weeks of the N.F.L.season.

Warrick Dunn against New Orleans on Sunday helped add another twist — smallish running backs considered third-down specialists are proving that they can be every-down, inside-running, big-play backs.

Dunn rushed 26 times for 90 rugged yards in Atlanta’s 24-17 victory over the Saints at the Georgia Dome. In his five seasons with Tampa Bay, he was considered the perfect outside complement to the brute inside running of Mike Alstott. Because Dunn is 5 feet 9 inches and 180 pounds, the Bucs never considered him big enough or strong enough to be a consistent 20-plus carry guy.

On Sunday here, the Falcons turned Dunn loose, asking him to run inside as much as outside through four quarters. Dunn delivered. He was physical, determined and successful against the Saints’ solid defense, displaying a resolve like that of other diminutive running backs, a list that includes Priest Holmes of Kansas City, Tiki Barber of the Giants and Charlie Garner of Oakland.

— Thomas George, The New York Times “A Situational Back For Every Situation.”

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