“I think we’ll have a good bit of those guys back in limited fashion, if nothing else, on Monday’s practice,” Quinn said.
The Falcons have spent a great deal of time focusing on improving their rushing attack. Todd Gurley ran strong in the scrimmage. They also are counting on Brian Hill, Ito Smith and Ollison to backup Gurley by committee.
In 2019, NFL teams with a 100-yard rusher posted a 78-28 record for a .736 winning percentage. That rated higher than teams with a 100-yard receiver (96-84-2, .533) or a 300-yard passer (68-61-2, .530).
The Falcons didn’t have a 100-yard rusher in any game last season. The Falcons only went for more than 100 yards rushing, as a group, in four games. Devonta Freeman’s season-high was 88 yards in a loss Oct. 13 to Arizona.
“We’ve still got work to do to get our run game in order, but I would say, as a position, some guys who have experience carrying it and have been sharp so far in camp,” Quinn said.
The Falcons must decide on the left guard position. Rookie Matt Hennessy is competing with veteran James Carpenter.
“It’s definitely the most demanding part of the offense is the running phase of it, but it’s just the same reps over and over again,” Quinn said. “Just so you see the block, you get the feel for it. For us, having those reps is such an important part of it.”
Matt Gono opened camp at left guard with the first team, but has since worked out at left tackle. His path to the roster could be as a backup guard-tackle.
“One of the things with just about everybody participating is we’re getting those reps over and over again,” Quinn said. “I’m expecting that to keep continuing, keep building and stacking as we’re going.”
In 2016, the Falcons rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 games on their ways to the Super Bowl. They rushed for more than 200 yards twice.
In 2017, the Falcons rushed for more than 100 yards in 11 games as they went to the playoffs. They rushed for more than 200 yards in one game.
In 2018, the Falcons rushed for more than 100 yards in six games, including one game of more than 200 yards.
The last time the Falcons had a 100-yard rusher, was when Hill rushed for 115 yards against Carolina in the 15th game of the 2018 season.
Getting the running game going has faced some challenges.
“As it started, we hadn’t been in pads for a long time,” Quinn said. “The installs were good, you got the assignments down, but now it’s the technique and the hand placement and the speed off the ball.”
Quinn has been pleased with the progress.
“So, I would say we’re definitely gaining on it as we’re going because now the installs are over so it’s you do the same plays over and over again to really groove it,” Quinn said.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons must make decisions in the secondary.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard had a strong showing in the most recent scrimmage and appears set at nickel back. Rookie A.J. Terrell and Kendall Sheffield were beaten by wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Isaiah Oliver appears to have the edge over Sheffield to hold onto his right cornerback spot.
“I would say the defense has done a good job of having opportunities to create takeaways,” Quinn said. “The only way that you get in the plus in that space is by forcing them.”
The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:
Can be found on Google, iTunes and TuneIn
For more content about the Atlanta Falcons:
Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC
On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now
Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Have a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org