Koetter: ‘Growing pains’ for Falcons rookie RB Freeman

Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said it’s “too early to say” if rookie Devonta Freeman can carry the load as a featured running back but Koetter likes his potential.

“Devonta is coming along fine,” Koetter said Friday. “He runs hard, is eager , is willing, does not back down from anything. He can catch the ball, strong hands, fast. He’s got all of the qualities. It’s just he’s a rookie in the NFL and he’s going to go through some growing pains.”

Freeman will get plenty of chances to earn playing time with veteran Steven Jackson out for at least the rest of training camp with a left hamstring injury. Jackson, 31, missed four games because of a right hamstring injury.

The Falcons selected Freeman in the fourth round of the draft. He decided to skip his final year of eligibility at Florida State after rushing for 1,016 yards on 173 carries (5.9 average) with 14 touchdowns in 2013.

Freeman will have to prove he can be a reliable pass blocker. The report on Freeman coming out of college was that he was good in that area but Koetter said he’s been just “OK” so far in pass protection with the Falcons.

“I think that’s the biggest adjustment for a running back going from college to the NFL,” Koetter said. “He had a great college career but teams try to test rookie running backs. They’ve got those big outside linebackers. There’s a lot of protections, there’s a lot of calls. There’s a learning curve. He’s on the right track.”

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