Dunn moves closer to 1,000

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Warrick Dunn is just 26 rushing yards from reaching the coveted threshold of 1,000 for the third time in his career and first in three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

The eighth-year veteran hopes to hit the mark by halftime this week at Seattle, but Dunn's greater concern is finishing with more yards than quarterback Michael Vick.

Though he's only kidding, Dunn knows he and fellow running back T.J. Duckett couldn't stand the thought of enduring an entire offseason with Vick as Atlanta's leading rusher.

"No, not at all. Not at all," Dunn said this week. "Now if he doesn't go out and rush for a million yards this week, then we'll be all right. I've got him. I've got him."

In winning 41-28 at Denver Oct. 31, Vick took the team lead as becoming the first player in NFL history to pass for 250 yards and rush for 100 in a single game.

"Unless they decide to put Weasie (Vick's nickname for Dunn) in for a whole game at quarterback, I don't see him breaking that one," Vick said with grin.

"That's OK. Who cares as long as we keep winning?"

Warrick Dunn didn't reclaim what was rightfully his until the Falcons' 34-31 overtime victory over Carolina two weeks ago. He finished with 134 yards, 66 more than Vick, but the dazzling quarterback still stole the proverbial spotlight by forcing overtime with a 12-yard score on fourth-and-goal.

The play, just another in Vick's growing resume of amazing highlights, was exceptional because he had the presence of mind to keep either knee from touching the Georgia Dome turf as he dove from the 3 to avoid Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan and safety Mike Minter.

"I think a lot of guys overlook what we're doing as a team," Dunn said. "You look at myself, Mike, T.J. - that's a pretty good 1-2-3 punch. As long as we keep winning, you won't hear anyone around here complaining."

Atlanta (11-4) has led the league in rushing for most of the season, and they will enter a 4 p.m. game Sunday against the Seahawks (8-7) with a 164.5 average.

The Falcons can pass the 1986 team a single-season franchise record with 57 yards. Doing so would give them 2,525, a remarkable achievement for a club that last year ranked 14th with a 121.8 average. New England set the NFL record for single-season team rushing yards (3,165) in 1978, the first year that the league played 16 games.

Dunn, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with Tampa Bay from 1997-2001, doesn't consider his own achievements comparable to those of other top running backs. With 974 yards, Dunn is 642 behind Seattle's Shaun Alexander, who leads the NFL. Dunn ranks 14th.

"One thousand in this league isn't what you look at," Dunn said. "It's more like 1,200 to 1,400 - that's what the top running backs get, but there's no reason to complain if your team is leading the league in rushing. We must be doing something right."

The Falcons also lead the league with 5.1 yards per carry. Vick, who enters the Seattle game with 7.6, has been atop the NFL most of the season.

"It is (impressive) because it takes into account what we're trying to accomplish as an offense," Dunn said. "Being able to run the ball like that takes a lot of pressure off a lot of people."

Dunn needs 90 yards to pass Haskel Stanback for fifth place on Atlanta's career rushing list.

Notes: Head coach Jim Mora placed defensive tackle Rod Coleman (shoulder) on the injury report Thursday, listing him as probable. ... Tight end Alge Crumpler returned to practice for the first time since injuring a knee against Carolina. He remains questionable along with Vick (shoulder), Duckett (knee), cornerback Jason Webster (groin) and nose tackle Ed Jasper (hand).

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