More painful injury news broke on Tuesday when the Falcons announced they would be putting Devonta Freeman on Injured Reserved.
Breaking: The Falcons will place star running back Devonta Freeman on injured reserve Tuesday, ESPN has confirmed. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. pic.twitter.com/jENLoYT0Nb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 16, 2018
The Pro-Bowl running back joins a long list of Falcons on IR and an even longer list of injured players.
Falcons injured so far this year:
Ricardo Allen (out for the year)
Keanu Neal (out for the year)
Devonta Freeman (out for the year)
Andy Levitre (out for the year)
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) October 16, 2018
The news comes not too long after it was reported that Freeman was likely to be out again versus the Giants. According to Dan Quinn, this is not because of the bone contusion that caused Freeman to miss last weeks contest versus the Bucs. Instead, Freeman will be having groin surgery, and the Falcons are hoping he will be able to return once he is eligible. Quinn says, “… we will have a better feel for (Freeman returning) in the coming weeks.”
If there is any solace in the loss of Freeman, it’s the caliber of backs behind him. Obviously, Tevin Coleman will get the bulk of the carries, but Ito Smith might be the surprise of the year behind Damontae Kazee. The Judge, as he has quickly become known around the NFL, scored for the third consecutive week on Sunday. That’s the first time a Falcons rookie has ever accomplished that, and this was a player who was projected to go undrafted by many.
That’s why people were somewhat shocked Atlanta opted to draft him in the fourth-round, especially with two talented running backs already on the roster. But like most of Thomas Dimitrioff’s supposed muffs, Smith has worked like a charm.
He may come short in stature but doesn’t lack a bit of thickness, much like Devonta Freeman. His smaller frame allows him to get in an out of tight spaces and his strength makes him tough to bring down. That’s a large part of why he keeps finding the end zone. His versatility as a pass catcher is also a plus. In limited action, Smith already has 10 receptions for 66 yards, showing he can make defenders look silly in open space.
The Southern Miss product is a complete back, and if there is a current NFL running back I would compare him to, it would probably be Devonta Freeman. Obviously he is not at that level yet, and the Falcons are going to miss the toughness and physicality Freeman brings to the table, but getting a healthy dose of The Judge is something Atlanta fans should also be excited about. There is an extremely high possibility he will be the full-time backup next season and this is his opportunity to gain some valuable experience.