Injuries kept Devonta Freeman out for almost all of the Falcons’ 2018 season, but the team let Tevin Coleman walk in free agency. This points to confidence in their starter re-emerging from a multi-malady season.
Dan Quinn indeed expects his starting running back to be full-go by training camp, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. The fifth-year Falcons coach said Freeman is set to be ready by the start of camp.
“We can’t wait to get Free back,” Quinn said. “He’s having such an awesome offseason. His energy, his juice, like him being around the team, you feel what he brings.”
Knee, foot and groin injuries derailed Freeman last year. He played in just two games and gained just 91 yards from scrimmage. The 27-year-old back has been working with the Falcons this offseason. He did not undergo offseason knee surgery, Ledbetter adds.
Freeman returning would obviously boost Atlanta’s offense, which may well have two new starting linemen in the mix in first-rounders Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Atlanta still has Ito Smith, who averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last season (compared to Coleman’s 4.5), and Day 3 rookies Qadree Ollison and Marcus Green will vie for backup gigs.
A former fourth-round pick, Freeman became the Falcons’ starter in his second season and made back-to-back Pro Bowls. The Falcons signed him to a five-year, $41.25MM extension in 2017. Freeman signing bonuses are on Atlanta’s books through 2021, making it financially disadvantageous to part ways with the suddenly injury-prone back until that year.
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