Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who’s been receiving most of the plays with the first-team offense in training camp, suffered a hamstring injury in practice on Thursday.
Freeman was running outside and was taken to the ground hard.
Freeman, who was being consoled by wide receiver Roddy White, was attended to by the team’s trainer. He did not return to the action.
“Hopefully it is a quick turnaround for him to get back,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s such a passionate competitor. You could see how disappointed that he was not to be able to finish today. Hopefully, we can get him back out there soon.”
The Falcons worked on their two-minute offense with Terron Ward, an undrafted rookie from Oregon State, as the running back with the first-team offense. Running back Tevin Coleman is also out with a hamstring strain.
Freeman and Coleman were competing for the starting running back spot. With both injured, Ward, Antone Smith and Jerome Smith will have to carry the load.
Freeman, who played 237 snaps as a rookie last season, was the front-runner. But Coleman, who became the 18th player in FBS history to rush for more than 2,000 yards last season when he ran for 2,036 for the Hoosiers, is a strong contender.
Freeman showed flashes in the run game and out of the backfield catching passes last season. He played in all 16 games and rushed for 248 yards on 65 carries (3.8 yards per carry) and caught 30 passes for 235 yards. He scored a touchdown rush and one receiving.
Coleman (5-foot-11 and 210 pounds) is a bit bigger than Freeman (5-8, 206).
The Falcons liked Coleman’s ability to break long runs. At Indiana, half of his 28 career rushing touchdowns were of 43 yards or more and eight were for 64 yards or more.
The Falcons are determined to improve their rushing attack in the outside-zone blocking scheme that’s being installed by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The Falcons ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing last season.
Shanahan has had success installing his rushing attack in Houston, Washington and Cleveland. When he was in Cleveland, his offense gained 475 yards against the Falcons last season.
“It started out real well,” Shanahan said of the competition. “All of them were competing real hard. Devonta was having a hell of a camp. Tevin was getting go. He got banged up a little earlier. Devonta got banged up today. I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like anything serious. It’s just part of camp. I’ve never been through camp without backs going down. It happens at every position. I hope they get healthy fast and get out there again.”
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