Falcons hope Freeman can make it back from sports hernia surgery

Devonta Freeman, who did not play in the game, watches during second half action against the Chiefs in a NFL preseason game on Friday, August 17, 2018, in Atlanta.  Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Devonta Freeman, who did not play in the game, watches during second half action against the Chiefs in a NFL preseason game on Friday, August 17, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who had sports hernia/core surgery Oct. 18, was an onlooker at practice Friday.

“He did weeks of the rehab in Philadelphia,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s back and doing well. We are just going to take it week by week and see where he can progress to. He isn’t able to practice yet. We are literally taking it to where it is all of the work that you can put in. Each few days, we’ll meet and see where he’s at.”

Quinn is holding out hope that Freeman can return this season. Currently, the Falcons rank last in the NFL in rushing while averaging 79 yards per game.

“Definitely,” Quinn said we asked if he hoped Freeman would return. “We are not ruling anything out for sure. He’s definitely made a lot of progress. That’s like all of the guys, we are going to make sure that he can do it.”

Freeman had surgery at the Vincera Institute. William C. Meyers, one of the leaders in core/sports hernia injury surgery, founded the institute.

The Falcons placed Freeman on injured reserve Oct. 16, with a hope that he could return later in the season.

The earliest Freeman could return to action is for Game 15 against Carolina. Recovery from core/sports hernia surgery usually takes four to six weeks.

Freeman played in the season opener and suffered what was reported as a knee bruise against the Eagles. He missed the next three games before playing against the Steelers. He rushed eight times for 32 yards, but didn’t look explosive on a 20-yard run after he got in the open field.

After the Pittsburgh game, Freeman got an MRI which revealed the tear in the core area.

Freeman didn’t play in the next game against Tampa Bay, and it was disclosed as a groin injury Friday. It was listed as a foot injury on the previous injury reports.

The rushing attack has struggled as Freeman, the team's leading rusher each of the last three years, has been injured.

Running backs Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith have taken over most of the carries, but have been ineffective mostly because of poor run blocking.

After signing a six-year, $43 million contract in August 2017, this is the second consecutive season in which Freeman has missed time with injuries. He also missed two games in 2017 with a concussion before suffering a knee injury in the regular-season finale against Carolina.

After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 2015 and 2016, Freeman finished with 865 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, along with 36 receptions, last season.

In his two games this season, Freeman, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has rushed 14 times for 68 yards and caught five passes for 23 yards.

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