One of the Atlanta Falcons’ biggest positional battles this offseason is between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to be the starting running back.
When Jacquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson departed Atlanta this offseason, Freeman looked like the strongest candidate to take over as the lead back in Kyle Shanahan’s system. But after the Falcons used their third round selection on Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, it’s not so clear. Freeman doesn’t mind that, however, and welcomes the competition.
“I’ve been in competition my whole life — especially with great athletes, even in little league,” Freeman said. “I was going to elementary class and there were guys who were real good, faster than me, stronger and bigger. I feel like it developed me. It gives me that drive knowing there’s another guy just as good.”
Freeman’s positive attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed, and has impressed coach Dan Quinn.
“I love the competitive attitude that Devonta brings,” Quinn said. “He’s one of the guys like, ‘I’m here coach I’m ready’, and he wants to be the first at doing everything, so that told me what a competitor he is.”
He’s impressed the head coach on the field too.
Dec 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) prepares for a game against the Carolina Panthers in the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
“I knew he had terrific hands, but now you add in what he is doing in the run game — I can’t wait to watch him work.”
Freeman saw limited action on the football field during his rookie campaign, carrying the football 65 times for 248 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 30 passes for 225 yards and a score.
Many, myself included, believe Tevin Coleman will be the lead back moving forward. But Freeman is confident he will be the main guy moving forward, and is determined to work hard and prove it.
Either way, the Falcons’ look strong at the position. Not only is there talent, but there is plenty of youth — no position is more demanding on the body than at running back, so keeping a young crop of talent is crucial.
Whether he’s the No. 1 or No. 2, Freeman will be seeing plenty of the football in 2015. Will be he ready? You better believe it.