Devonta Freeman

Latest On Falcons’ Devonta Freeman

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Rumors: Coleman, Panthers, Olsen

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff gave an indication on the future status of running back Tevin Coleman, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes.

“Tevin’s going to do well, wherever he is,” he said.

The stumble of words just goes to confirm what many have expected: That Coleman will not be back with the Falcons in 2019. Projected as the No. 2 free agent running back behind Le’Veon Bell, the Indiana product is due for a big payday. That wasn’t likely to come from the Falcons, who already have the league’s third-highest-paid running back on the roster in Devonta Freeman.

The Falcons also have a capable backup ready to take Coleman’s role in Ito Smith, who gained 315 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. While it won’t be with the Falcons, Coleman is sure to command a primary back role with another team after showcasing a dual-threat skill set in his time in Atlanta.

Here’s more from around the NFC South:

  • If the Panthers are to bring in a new quarterback in 2019, head coach Ron Rivera said it is more likely to come through the draft rather than free agency, Panthers team writer Bill Voth tweets. That would take them out of the hunt for a proven veteran backup to Cam Newton, who dealt with injuries throughout the 2018 season.
  • Sticking with the Panthers, tight end Greg Olsen has met with ESPN about opportunities but that does not include the Monday Night Football post that was vacated yesterday when Jason Witten returned to the Cowboys, The Athletic’s Joseph Person writes. Those talks could eventually come, but the Panthers fully expect the veteran tight end to return to the field in 2019.
  • The Falcons view Ty Sambrailo as the team’s starting right tackle over Ryan Schraeder, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter writes. Sambrailo moved past Schraeder on the depth chart last season and started the final game at right guard. He will stay at right tackle because it’s easier to find guards and Sambrailo’s ability to pass protect, head coach Dan Quinn said.
  • The Saints have hired Declan Doyle to be an offensive assistant coach, Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune writes. Doyle previously worked as an offensive student assistant at the University of Iowa.

Falcons’ Devonta Freeman Won’t Return

No surprise here, but Falcons coach Dan Quinn says the team will not activate Devonta Freeman from IR this season (Twitter link via 92.9 The Game). Two weeks ago, the Falcons indicated that Freeman could potentially play again, but it makes little sense to play him now that they are completely cooked. 

[RELATED: Falcons Likely To Fire Steve Sarkisian]

Freeman hardly saw the field in 2018 thanks to knee trouble early in the year and groin surgery later on. In his two games, Freeman had 14 carries for 68 yards and caught five passes for 23 yards.

The 26-year-old (27 in March) rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay out of the trainer’s room when he returns in 2019.

Freeman is under contract through 2022 thanks to the five-year, $41.25MM extension he inked in August of 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Fins, Falcons, Cowboys, Browns

The Dolphins have already ruled out quarterback Ryan Tannehill for their Week 7 contest against the Lions, and the NFL is now investigating how Miami handled reporting Tannehill’s shoulder injury in Week 6, as Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com reports. Tannehill was a full participant in both Wednesday and Thursday practice last week, but was limited on Friday before being inactive against the Bears on Sunday. The league will often look into such cases where injury designations present something of a question mark; some clubs are subsequently fined, others are cleared, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Without Tannehill available, Miami will once again deploy Brock Osweiler, who threw for a career-high 380 yards against Chicago.

Here’s more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair his groin injury, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Freeman’s recovery timeline isn’t yet clear, but reports yesterday did indicate that Freeman — who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday — could return later this season. Because he’s now on IR, Freeman must miss at least eight games before coming back. Various health issues have limited Freeman to just two games this season, during which he averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 14 touches. With Freeman unavailable, Atlanta will turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith in its backfield.
  • Tavon Austin is getting a second opinion on his groin injury in the near future, and the Cowboys will wait to hear that diagnosis before deciding on an injured reserve move, tweets Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. Austin, who Dallas acquired from the Rams earlier this year, has lined up at both receiver and running back this season, managing seven receptions and six rushes on the year. If Austin is placed on IR, the Cowboys will continue to lean on an uninspiring group of pass-catchers that includes Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Deonte Thompson. Dallas would need to find a new punt returner, as Austin has handled all but one of the club’s punt returns.
  • Browns linebacker Joe Schobert will be sidelined for “a little while” as he deals with with a hamstring injury, head coach Hue Jackson told reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Losing Schobert for any amount of time is devastating for Cleveland, as he’s played nearly every snap on defense while ranking as a top-10 linebacker league-wide, per Pro Football Focus. With Schobert down, the Browns will likely deploy Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins as their nickel linebackers. Cleveland’s linebacker depth already took a hit earlier this week when James Burgess was placed on injured reserve.
  • Turning to the college game, Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a neck injury last weekend, according to Nick Suss of the Clarion-Ledger. Metcalf is a redshirt sophomore, so he could potentially enter the 2019 draft if he so chooses. But given his injury, Metcalf may choose to head back to school in order to put more highlights on tape. Per Suss, Metcalf is viewed as a potential Day 2 pick.

Falcons To Place Devonta Freeman On IR

The Falcons will place Devonta Freeman on injured reserve, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It’s a crushing blow for the Falcons, who were hoping to get him back on the field sooner rather than later. 

The Falcons’ starting running back has dealt with knee and foot trouble this year, but a groin injury has become his most pressing issue. Atlanta has been using Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield, and they’ll continue to lean on that duo during Freeman’s extended absence.

Freeman will be a candidate to return from IR later this year after undergoing groin surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Per league rules, he’ll have to miss a minimum of eight weeks, meaning that he cannot play until Week 14 against the Packers, at the earliest.

Freeman rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. He missed a pair of games last season with a concussion, and he’s only played in a pair of games this season. In those two games, the 26-year-old has compiled only 68 rushing yards. He’s under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.

The Falcons improved to 2-4 on the year after topping the rival Buccaneers on Sunday. Strangely enough, they’re 0-2 with Freeman in the lineup and 2-2 without him. Of course, they might have fared better against the Eagles and Steelers if they had Freeman at full strength. Between those two games in Week 1 and Week 5, Freeman drew just 14 totes and seven targets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Falcons, Buccaneers, Morgan

The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions, continuing on the Atlanta injury front:

  • Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
  • Ali Marpet became the latest Buccaneers starter to sign a lucrative extension, joining Mike Evans and Cameron Brate in doing so this year. More re-ups could be on track. Kwon Alexander and the Bucs are still talking an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While Stroud writes it’s uncertain if the Bucs want to pay Alexander like a top-tier linebacker — they have Lavonte David on the books at $10MM per year — he’s on the radar. As is fourth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, who’s in a contract year. Despite rarely being viewed as a productive player by Pro Football Focus, Smith is well thought of among Bucs brass, per Stroud. Adam Humphries is another player the Bucs would like to retain, though they have a crowded receiver room. Chris Godwin‘s emerged as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 man and may be Evans’ top complement if DeSean Jackson ($10MM non-guaranteed salary in 2019) isn’t back next year. Humphries’ contract expires after this season.
  • Derrick Morgan will miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury, Mike Vrabel said. A ninth-year player who dealt with a knee injury during the preseason, Morgan has played in all six Titans games this year and has only missed more than two games in a season once in the past eight years. Harold Landry will likely start opposite Brian Orakpo in the meantime.
  • Stationed on the Texans‘ PUP list, D’Onta Foreman can return to practice this week but probably won’t, per Bill O’Brien (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Foreman’s been out since late last season because of an Achilles’ tendon tear.
  • Braden Smith appears to have solidified himself as the Colts‘ right tackle. Indianapolis went through several players in hopes of identifying a candidate, but Frank Reich said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) this job will be Smith’s to lose. Smith’s started three games for the Colts this season.
  • Former Lions, Patriots and Bengals linebacker Marquis Flowers worked out for the Texans on Monday, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions cut Flowers last week. He played in 16 games for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16 and suited up for all 19 of the Patriots’ games last year.

Latest On Falcons RB Devonta Freeman

It sounds like we’ve got another injury that we can add to Devonta Freeman‘s list of ailments. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out that the Falcons running back was listed on Friday’s injury report with a groin issue.

Freeman has already overcome a knee injury that forced him to miss several games earlier this season, and this week he was reportedly struggling through a foot injury. The organization wasn’t all that concerned with Freeman’s recent bone bruise, believing it’d only force him to miss a single game (if that). However, the groin issue is new, and Florio wonders how the running back could have suffered the injury if he wasn’t practicing.

This groin injury probably makes it even more unlikely that Freeman sees the field for this weekend’s contest against the Buccaneers. If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith.

Freeman rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. He missed a pair of games last season with a concussion, and he’s already missed three contests this season. In his two games this year, the 26-year-old has collected 68 rushing yards on 14 carries. He’s under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Not Concerned Devonta Freeman Has Long-Term Injury

The Falcons aren’t as worried about Devonta Freeman‘s foot injury as they were about the knee injury he suffered earlier this year, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Freeman is now dealing with a bone bruise, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently reported that the veteran running back’s status for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers is in doubt. However, Graziano indicates that it’s “too soon to know” whether Freeman can suit up for Week 6. Either way, Atlanta isn’t concerned that Freeman is facing a long-term absence.

If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. Tampa Bay, of course, is currently fielding on the league’s worst defenses, although it’s been much worse against the pass than the run. The Buccaneers rank 30th in passing DVOA to opposing running backs, so Coleman and Smith — both of whom are solid pass-catchers — could excel in that area on Sunday.

Injuries haven’t typically been a problem for Freeman: before missing two games with a concussion in 2017, he’d played in 47-of-48 games from 2014-16. Freeman, who topped 1,000 rushing yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016, is under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Falcons, Giants, Eagles, Bucs

The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of injury news, the Giants have already ruled out tight end Evan Engram for Thursday night’s game against the Eagles, meaning Rhett Ellison, who has shouldered the load since Week 3, will take over at tight end once again. Edge rusher Oliver Vernon, who’s missed the entire season to this point with an ankle issue, will make his 2018 debut. On the other side of the field, the Eagles have listed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Corey Graham, and running back Darren Sproles as out. The latter two are especially concerning, as Philadelphia recent placed defensive back Rodney McLeod and running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.
  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Under the terms of his five-year extension with the Buccaneers, guard Ali Marpet will earn $12.365MM through one year, $23.25MM through two years, and $33.5MM through three years, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Among left guards, Marpet’s $11MM annual average now ranks third, behind only Andrew Norwell and Kelechi Osemele, while his $27.125MM in guarantees ranks second. Marpet, who has started 44 games during his time in the NFL, has displayed exceptional versatility, as he’s played both guard spots and center in his career.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

NFC Notes: Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Lions

The Packers could potentially be without two starting receivers when they face the Lions on Sunday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and worked out with a rehab group during practice today, while Geronimo Allison is in the concussion protocol. If neither pass-catcher can go, Green Bay will be forced to turn to a pair of rookie receivers, Marques Valdez-Scantling and J’Mon Moore. Valdez-Scantling took over slot duties last week while Cobb was out, so he’d probably play there in three-wide sets against Detroit. For what it’s worth, No. 1 Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was listed as limited with a calf injury on Wednesday, but he’s expected to be ready for Sunday’s divisional matchup.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Week 5 presents a good news/bad news situation for the Falcons, as running back Devonta Freeman is expected to return from a multi-game absence while defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers with an ankle injury, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The 1-3 Falcons have scored plenty of points with Tevin Coleman filling in for Freeman, but the latter’s return will nonetheless add another dimension to an already potent offense. Jarrett, for his part, is one of the best players left on an Atlanta defense that has already lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, plus linebacker Deion Jones, for the year. The Falcons rank as a bottom-six defense in yards allowed, scoring, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
  • 49ers rookie wideout Dante Pettis has already been ruled out for San Francisco’s Week 5 contest against the Cardinals, reports Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). Pettis, the 44th overall selection in this year’s draft, injured his knee on a punt return in Week 4. The Washington product produced nearly 100 receiving yards over the first two games of the season, but hasn’t caught a pass since. Fellow receiver Marquise Goodwin, who’s been hampered by a hamstring ailment all season, didn’t practice today and could also conceivably miss Sunday’s action, meaning Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, among others, could be in for more looks.
  • Even after fracturing his hand in Week 4, Lions safety Quandre Diggs practiced on Wednesday and should be available for Sunday, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Diggs, who inked a three-year, $18.6MM extension last month, has played the second-most snaps of any Detroit defender this season. If Diggs unexpectedly can’t play against the Packers, Tavon Wilson would take over at strong safety.