Originally created 08/06/99

Dwight looking for bigger role



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Tim Dwight pulls off his sweat-drenched jersey and shoulder pads following a two-hour workout and quickly lets it be known that he wants to contribute more to the Atlanta Falcons than he did as a rookie last season.

With last year's leading receiver, Tony Martin, no longer around, coach Dan Reeves could certainly use additional help from Dwight, the mighty mite from the University of Iowa who made a pretty good splash on special teams his rookie year.

"I want the ball more this year," said Dwight, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound speedster who ran a leg on Iowa's 4x400 relay team that finished fourth in this year's NCAA track and field championships.

"My main goal is to make some plays," Dwight said. "I want to find a role in this offense."

Last year, he said, he just wanted a chance to play.

Dwight's 10.45-second speed in the 100 meters made him valuable in returning kickoffs and punts last season. He had 36 kickoff returns for 973 yards and one touchdown and returned 31 punts for 263 yards.

His biggest moment came in the Super Bowl, when he returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown -- fourth longest in Super Bowl history. In the end, it made little difference, though, as Atlanta's first trip to the NFL championship game ended in a 34-19 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Dwight also saw spot duty with the offense, rushing for 19 yards on eight carries, catching four passes for 94 yards and one touchdown, and even attempting one end-around pass that fell incomplete.

Dwight believes the Falcons have a solid corps of receivers who will be able to provide the deep threat the team had in Martin, now with the Miami Dolphins.

"This crew has more experience in the offense," Dwight said after a workout at the Falcons' training camp at Furman University. "(Quarterback Chris) Chandler has more experience in the offense."

The fastest of the group is a rookie from Eastern Kentucky, Rondel Menendez, a speedster who has covered 40 yards in 4.2 seconds. The experience in the group belongs to a pair of receivers -- Chris Calloway, entering his 10th season, and Ronnie Harris, heading into his sixth.

Dwight arrived in the Falcons camp last year with the reputation of a guy who lived on the edge.

He had raced motorcycles. He had jumped off apartment balconies into snowdrifts. Once, he jumped from a cliff 85 feet into a river below.

During the offseason this year, he had planned to do some whitewater rafting on the Colorado River. But he had to go elsewhere, he said, because some people were killed the week before and authorities closed the Colorado to rafting.

"I don't know why some people say I'm crazy," Dwight said. "I'm all there. I just like to see how far I can push myself."