The Falcons have placed running back Ito Smith on injured reserve, per a team announcement. With that, the Falcons will be forced to play against the Panthers and Bucs without the services of their No. 2 RB.
Smith saw an unexpected spike in usage this year after the loss of star Devonta Freeman. The fourth-round rookie would up with 90 carries for 315 yards and four scores over 14 games and, at times, he flashed serious potential. His 3.5 yards per carry average isn’t anything to write home about, but part of the blame falls on the team’s inconsistent offense as a whole. Smith also got involved in the passing game and ends his year with 27 catches for 152 yards.
Coleman will become an unrestricted free agent in March, so Smith figures to continue as a major piece in the Falcons’ offense next year. While he lacks the patience and experience of Coleman, the Falcons seem prepared to give him a larger share of the workload.
“I would say Ito is best on the inside zone runs,” coach Dan Quinn said recently. “He can line a (defender) up in the hole and use his change of direction and break a guy off where Tevin often times will toss it outside and see the wide zone and stretch the defense and then try to get a vertical cut…. You’ve seen Ito enough now, it’s his change of direction when a guy is trying to size him up … where Tevin would try to use the angle and use his speed to break a guy off.”
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