Ito Smith

Falcons Place RB Ito Smith On IR

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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/9/18

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • The Falcons have agreed to terms with second-round cornerback Isaiah Oliver, fourth-round running back Ito Smith, sixth-round receiver Russell Gage, and sixth-round linebacker Foyesade Olukom. That leaves Atlanta with just two remaining unsigned draft picks, first-round wideout Calvin Ridley and third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat. None of the four selections signed by the Falcons today figure to have much of a 2018 role, but given the strength of Atlanta’s roster, the club was able to target future value. Oliver fits the Falcons’ size requirements for a defensive back and could help out down the line, while Smith is a hedge against Atlanta failing to sign Tevin Coleman, who will become a free agent at season’s end.
  • Fifth-round offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby has signed his rookie deal with the Lions. Crosby surprisingly fell to Day 3 of the draft after many analysts pegged him as at least a Day 2 selection. Although he played tackle at Oregon, Crosby could shift to guard in Detroit, especially given the presence of incumbent tackles Taylor Decker and Ricky Wagner. Crosby may compete to start at left guard, but with Graham Glasgow likely locking down that position, Crosby is probably looking at reserve duty for 2018.
  • The Steelers have inked their first rookie to a contract, as fifth-round rookie running back Jaylen Samuels is now signed. Samuels, a North Carolian State product, was something of a jack-of-all-trades during his collegiate days, and it won’t be surprising if he sees action at fullback, tight end, or receiver during his rookie season in Pittsburgh. Long-term, Samuels could be a candidate to replace Le’Veon Bell, who will once again play under the franchise tag in 2018.
  • Fifth-round wideout Justin Watson has singed his rookie pact with the Buccaneers, tweets Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Watson posted excellent athletic testing results and put up outstanding production at Pennsylvania, but he’s coming from a small school and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com says Watson “doesn’t move with desired suddenness.” Watson likely won’t factor into Tampa Bay’s offense this season, but could carve out a role on special teams.
  • The Patriots didn’t land a first-round quarterback as many had projected, but they did pick LSU signal-caller Danny Etling in the seventh round, and he’s now under contract. New England doesn’t figure to keep three quarterbacks on its roster, so Etling will likely (at best) spend the 2018 season on the club’s practice squad. It’s possible he’s just a camp arm.