Falcons second-year running back Devonta Freeman is ready to carry the rushing load.
Rookie running back Tevin Coleman is expected to be out with a cracked rib he suffered in the 24-20 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
“Yeah, I’m prepared for it,” Freeman said on Monday. “I always prepare hard. Whatever coach asks me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn wouldn’t rule Coleman out for the Dallas game, but a non-displaced cracked rib normally heals in two to four weeks, according to a former NFL team doctor.
“Fortunately rib fractures heal more quickly than other bones,” said Dr. David Chao, formerly of the San Diego Chargers. “Two to four weeks would not be unreasonable.”
Coleman could take a pain injection and try to play with the cracked rib. Quinn, who would not put a timetable on Coleman’s recovery, acknowledged that Coleman’s threshold of pain would be key to a quick recovery.
“That’s really what it comes down to with regard to the pain,” Quinn said. “That’s something that we’ll go through and it’s his first time going through, that’s why I didn’t want to put a (time) on it at this point yet.”
The Falcons rushing attack got off to a promising start against the New York Giants before fading over the last three quarters.
Coleman was carted off the field in the second quarter and Freeman took over.
Coleman had nine carries for 32 yards, including a long of 11 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run. In the season-opening 26-24 win over the Eagles, he rushed for 80 yards on 20 carries.
Freeman, who missed most of the exhibition season with a hamstring injury, finished with 25 yards on 12 carries, including the game-winning touchdown run from 2 yards out.
He pronounced himself fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered on Aug. 6.
“That game that we just played, I didn’t have (any) problems with it,” Freeman said. “I felt pretty good.”
Freeman and Terron Ward are the lone backs on the roster. Also, running back Jahwah Edwards is on the practice squad.
Quinn said the team was not interested in signing a free agent running back at this time.
Without a viable rushing attack, Matt Ryan attempted 46 passes against the Giants. The Falcons’ offense is designed around running the ball, which Ryan can use to buy time with play-action fakes, rollouts and bootlegs.
Freeman believes he can help to get the rushing attack moving.
“I’m the type of back that has to get into a rhythm,” Freeman said. “Once I get in a rhythm and get a feel for the game, I’m fine.”
The Falcons have installed the outside-zone rushing attack with mixed results thus far. If Freeman can get things moving, teams will eventually stop honoring Ryan’s plan-action fakes.
“Our run game and the keepers that go along with it, have to be a factor,” Quinn said. “When that part opens up even more,that’s when I think our offense can become even more explosive.”
Freeman said he needs to do a better job of cutting and hitting holes in the scheme.
Both Freeman and Quinn noted that the blocking needs to be 100 percent for the scheme to work.
“We just have to get it where it’s all 11 together,” Quinn said. “At times, we were missing at tight end, we were missing at guard or missing at receiver. That connection with those guys in the run game, when you run this wide zone scheme, you have to be honest. There can’t be (missed blocks).”
Quinn plans to re-visit Coleman’s injury situation before facing Dallas.
“Right now, he’ll be out for Wednesday and Thursday,” Quinn said. “Then I’ll address it again on Friday. It’s not something that is displaced or out of whack. I’m not going to put a timetable on it until we know how he’s responding to it. As we get later in the week, we’ll put a timetable on it.”
For now, Freeman is the No. 1 back.
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